What is high blood pressure?

Doctors have been calling for dietary changes as the best way to lower your blood pressure for many years.
Doctors have been calling for dietary changes as the best way to lower your blood pressure for many years.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, has been linked to many abnormal conditions in the human body. It contributes to organs not functioning as they should and increases the risk of organ failure.

Your blood circulates through your body because your heart pumps it. Your veins and arteries are the blood supply and return lines from and to your heart. For blood to move, it needs to be under pressure within these tubes.

Everyone has a pressure that is normal for their body. When your heart beats, this pressure is called systolic pressure and is represented by the first number of your blood pressure reading.

When your heart relaxes between beats, the pressure in your veins and arteries is called diastolic pressure. This is the second number in your blood pressure reading.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) because the first accurate pressure measuring device used mercury as the gauge.

Normal blood pressure can range up to 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is usually diagnosed at 140/90 mmHg.

Doctors have known for many years how to treat high blood pressure to ensure people live a long and happy life. They have identified many foods that you can eat which can lower your blood pressure. These foods also reduce the risk of someone developing high blood pressure.

Symptoms of high blood pressure

You might not know that you have high blood pressure. It usually doesn’t have any symptoms associated with it.

The only way you can tell is to measure your blood pressure every day.

Causes of high blood pressure

Several factors can cause high blood pressure:

  • Inactive lifestyle: If you don’t get enough physical exercise, your blood pressure can rise because your heart isn’t as efficient as it could be.
  • Stress
  • Unhealthy Diet
  • Genetics: Your genes may have a part to play in high blood pressure because some people have a naturally higher blood pressure than others.
  • Overweight: People with high body mass indexes generally have higher blood pressure.
  • Bad lifestyle choices: Smoking, smokeless tobacco use, and drinking alcohol all increase your blood pressure.

Diagnosis for high blood pressure

Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose high blood pressure.

It is a natural occurrence as we age, so anyone can develop high blood pressure. Whether you’re obese or overly muscular, if you are overweight then you have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure.

Men are more likely to develop high blood pressure before the age of 55. Women tend to develop the condition more than men after age 55. A person’s race also influences whether they develop high blood pressure.

SLIDESHOW

How to Lower Blood Pressure: Exercise Tips See Slideshow

Treating high blood pressure with diet

Doctors have been calling for dietary changes as the best way to lower your blood pressure for many years.

While there are many food choices that you can use to lower your risk of developing high blood pressure, not many have been proven to lower it on their own. A combination of foods is the best way to lower your risk of high blood pressure and possibly reduce it.

DASH

The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) was developed based on findings of studies done by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. This plan combines healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains with fat-free or low-fat fish, poultry, beans, and nuts.

The DASH approach also limits sugary beverages, sweets, and sugary foods. Red meat should also be limited because it is high in fat and sodium. Any wheat and whole grain foods should include the bran and the germ. These whole grain foods have been shown to help lower blood pressure.

Potassium

Foods that are high in potassium have been proven to reduce the effect that salt, or sodium, has on your circulatory system. A high sodium intake is related to high blood pressure. Potassium makes your body flush out sodium.

Foods such as bananas, avocados, lima beans, mushrooms, and many more are high in potassium. They can help reduce your blood pressure by flushing out extra sodium.

Risks and complications of high blood pressure

High blood pressure can create severe problems within your body. It can cause strokes, dementia, or a heart attack. High blood pressure can only be diagnosed by your doctor.

If you’ve been to see the doctor and they determine you have high blood pressure, they might decide to give you medications designed to lower it.

Medications may have different side effects. Consult your healthcare provider about possible complications of any medications you might take for your high blood pressure.

Doctors might also prescribe dietary changes after talking to you about your lifestyle and blood pressure. They will likely recommend that you exercise for 30 minutes a day, or get at least that much physical activity if you can’t exercise.

With diet, medicine, and exercise, you can reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure and the other health problems that it can cause. Dietary changes and healthier lifestyles tend to reduce blood pressure and often lead to a longer, more enjoyable life.

QUESTION

Salt and sodium are the same. See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 2/2/2021
References
American Heart Association: "How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure."

American Heart Association: "Managing Blood Pressure with a Heart-Healthy Diet."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "High Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes."

Kansas Medical Center: "What do Blood Pressure Readings mean?"

Mayo Clinic: "Can whole-grain foods lower blood pressure?"

Mayo Clinic: "DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure."

Mayo Clinic: "10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication."