A person is medically diagnosed as hypertensive (high blood pressure) when one or both figures (systolic and diastolic) are higher than the normal range for optimum health. High blood pressure may be an indication of concurrent disease to include cardiovascular disease, (CVD) stroke (cardiovascular accident), coronary heart disease, (CHD) and may result in death. Current statistics (2012) for the United Kingdom (UK) identified that hypertension was prevalent in 33% of men and 25% of women aged 45-54 years, and that associated lifestyle factors were responsible for much of the predicated outcomes. But more worryingly, reports and surveys indicate that hypertension may go undiagnosed, untreated and therefore unmanaged, which may in turn result in worst-case scenarios.
Evidence indicates that the shift in demographics of the UK towards an older, obese and sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increased risk of hypertension in its’ population. As a matter of fact, each 2mmHg rise in systolic blood pressure (top number) increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by a frightening 7% (men) and 10% (women) respectively. Research indicates the importance of random screening after 30 years of age. Blood pressure readings should form part of your own annual health screening. But the good news is there are ways to manage your own health and work proactively on preventing hypertension, on a daily basis.
Think of your body as deserving the very best you have to offer. These seven essentials will help you to make your own personal choices. They are all linked.
Facts about blood pressure
Allows the cells in your body to regenerate and repair, toxins to be excreted and the mind to become restful and more productive. Absence leads to inefficiencies in normal functions. The body needs 7-8 hours every 24 hours. You cannot ‘catch up’ as it is a daily (nightly) process. Lack of sleep may lead to loss of concentration, irritability, tiredness and poor function.
We cannot store it, nor manufacture it. It has to be drunk. Apply the waterfall principle every hour that you are awake. The body is made up of more than 80% water and needs a constant supply to maintain the bodily functions and normalise processes. ‘Thirst’ is a late indicator that your body is dehydrated and in a negative balance. Less circulating water will affect the body pressures to include the blood.
Muscles that constrict and then contract will help pump the oxygenated blood round your body. This will help maintain the pressures to an optimal level. Making your heart beat faster during exercise (without being breathless) is called aerobic. Breathing out allows a gas (carbon dioxide) to be exhaled, as the body does not need to store it. Sweating is the natural way for the body to cool the internal organs and excrete salt onto the skin. Water needs to be constantly, replaced to correct this fine balance and maintain equilibrium. Daily exercise is the optimum, for at least 30 minutes. Lack of exercise can lead to weight gain, decreased mobility and flexibility in the body. Endorphins can also elevate the mood and make a person feel ‘good’ and in control.
Nutrition starts with natural colour and texture on your plate in controlled portions. Start with vegetables, then fruit, carbohydrate and finally protein. Eating three to six smaller a meal every 3-4 hours is both fuel-efficient and a simpler way to manage your input. Fat, Salt and total Sugars (carbohydrates) – are necessary in terms of metabolism, energy and hydration balance. Just add small daily amounts of fat, salt and sugar to your meals. Your body requirements are dependent on gender (not appetite) with women needing the smaller ratio to men. Daily requirements of fat consumption is approximately 70-95 grams (the size of a medium to large chicken egg). Salt consumption is 6 grams (approximately one teaspoon). Total sugars (found in all starchy and sugary foods) is 90–120 grams (size of a medium apple).
Your body only needs a little of each for it to maintain optimum health. Adding more than the recommendation is both detrimental and costly. Limit consuming any of the above in the form of snack foods, as it is difficult to manage and measure, in these forms. If you put in more than the recommended levels of these three essentials, the body will do two things; firstly, store it as a reserve (fat) for a ‘rainy day’ and change your outward appearance and shape and secondly lay down deposits of fat (cholesterol) in the blood vessels. These will raise the pressure as the blood has less room to flow through the vessels.
The cholesterol may break off and form a fat (clot) or block a vessel and the blood behind it may also form a clot that may prevent the flow. Either way – a stroke, heart attack or death is a very high probability.
Aim to stay within a body mass index for your height and weight. As we age in our adult years – we will not get any taller! Fat on the outside – indicates fat on the inside, which makes your internal organs particularly the heart, blood vessels and liver work much harder to maintain their function. Remember there is no such thing as a ‘fat’ skeleton! Carrying extra weight (fat) around your middle (abdomen) is a significant factor for heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.
Alcohol is not classified as a food. Ask any chef. It is a simple carbohydrate with empty nutritional calories. It can easily contribute to weight gain (calories) and may elevate the blood pressure (blood vessels constrict). The damage may be permanent with repeated exposure – not just over time. The liver has to work harder to remove alcohol from the body, as it is a toxin. A single unit (of alcohol) takes approximately 45 minutes for men and 60 minutes for women to be fully excreted from the body. If hypertension is present – this may take longer. Long term, excessive use and bingeing may all have a detrimental effect on the body both internally and externally. Other organs to include the skin, hair and eyes are the usual outward casualties.
Tobacco is a noxious substance, which has no nutritional value. It starves the cells of the body of oxygen in its’ gaseous exchange in normal function. Any cell depleted of oxygen may be subject to change, disease and even death. This may affect more than one organ. Blood pressure may be raised and breathing may be compromised. Medication may not offer a cure and the disease process may not necessarily be reversed.
Now we are older and wiser, the whole phenomenon of prevention depends firstly on your readiness to make healthy choices and then make those choices as part of your normal everyday lifestyle. With these small changes you can both prevent and largely manage your blood pressure on your own. It is never to late to make the changes. Today is the best day to make a start.
Remember, your numbers (all seven) really do matter.
If you have questions about blood pressure or have experiences to share, add you comments below or visit 50connect forums.