How High Is Too High?
According to the American Heart Association, if your blood pressure is higher than 130/80, it's too high. If just one of the numbers is high and the other is not, it's too high. Know what your blood pressure is and if either number is higher than 130/80, see a doctor.
High Blood Pressure Tends to Run in Families
High blood pressure tends to run in families, so if your parent has hypertension, there is a likelihood that you will also. As we age, the walls of the arteries tend to clog with plaque, whether from the food we eat or from our inherited tendencies, so older people do tend to have a higher relevance of hypertension than younger people.
Lack of a controlled diet, caffeine intake, smoking and stress are all lifestyle factors that can affect blood pressure.
Two Categories of Stroke Caused By High Blood Pressure
There are two kinds of strokes, one is a hemorrhagic stroke, just described and the other is an ischemic stroke in which a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain. Both can be life threatening and equally devastating to a person’s quality of life.
Whether you are thirty or seventy, high blood pressure can have catastrophic effects on your health and your life.
High blood pressure is often symptomless, and it’s not until the onset of a stroke that people often realize that they have a problem with their blood pressure. You may never have any of the symptoms listed in the table below but still have high blood pressure. Not only can high blood pressure cause a stroke, it also can lead to a heart attack and renal disease.
Possible Signs of High Blood Pressure
Heart pounding in your ears or chest
Exercise to Lower Your Blood Pressure
Aerobic exercise can significantly lower blood pressure. Not only does it help with weight management but it also is a factor in reducing stress levels by allowing you to relax. A brisk walk, or 30 minutes of bicycling, dancing or any other activity that increases your hear rate is considered aerobic and will help you to lower your level of stress.
Physical activity makes for a stronger heart that pumps blood more easily. It lowers the stress on your blood vessels, therefore decreasing your blood pressure.
Make It Fun!
My attention span is short. Therefore, I need something to motivate me to exercise past the first few days of any new activity. For me, I have to change it up. One day I will walk, the next, I will ride my bicycle around my neighborhood. I might throw in an afternoon of swimming (not laying on the beach) or an evening of dancing. Aerobic classes, bowling, jogging, skating, skiing, mowing the lawn, vacuuming, anything that gets the heart rate up counts as aerobic exercise! If you can't get outdoors though, you can walk around your kitchen; make laps to get your steps in for the day.
Watch Out for the Salt!
When I make a home visit and my patient's blood pressure is elevated, I first ask if they have taken their medication today and then I ask them what they have been eating.
In more cases than not, I can find something in their diet that spiked their blood pressure. Sodium content in the foods we eat, although printed on the package label often go unchecked by the individual required to maintain control of their blood pressure.
Fast food is usually high in sodium, whether it’s a hamburger, fries with salt, or fried chicken, the salt content is usually high. My best advice is to learn to cook for yourself in order to control sodium content.
I believe that of all the things we can do to promote good health, managing our stress level is at the top of the list. It's arguable that we can’t always control the environment in which our stress comes from; we can’t change the people we live with, the place we work, or the daily happenings that come our way, but we can change how we respond to them.
I teach a lot of deep breathing exercise in my daily home visits. I walk into many high stress situations, charged with worry and anxiety. Caregivers at a loss in their role, families over- burdened with medical bills, changing living arrangements due to poor health; the list goes on and on. I always encourage stepping away, even for a few short minutes to just breathe deeply. I use this technique myself.
Your body produces a surge of hormones when you're in a stressful situation. These hormones temporarily increase your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow.
It's not been proven that stress alone causes long-term high blood pressure, but reacting to stress in unhealthy ways might increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
See Your Doctor
When you start on your journey to control your blood pressure, meet with your doctor and discuss your goals. Your doctor is going to be happy that you are ready to take an active role in improving your health and your lifestyle.
- MayoClinic: Stress and High Blood Pressure
- NHS: Effects of Salt On Blood Pressure
- Heart.org: When Is My Blood Pressure Too High?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2022 Patty Poet