As our blood flows through the vessels and arteries throughout our body, it creates a certain amount of pressure on them. Normal blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 and lower than that. The first number refers to the systolic blood pressure, which is the pressure of the heart when it beats.
The second number is the diastolic blood pressure and it is the strain measurement of the heart when it relaxes during beats.
Which factors can lead to an elevated blood pressure?
Stress can definitely trigger the occurrence of high blood pressure. When we are under stress, our body produces stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which instantly causes blood pressure to rise. In stressful situations, our blood vessels constrict, putting more pressure on the artery walls as the blood flows through them.
Genes also has a part to play. If your close relatives suffer from elevated blood pressure, the likelihood that you will be affected is bigger too.
The good news is that we can control some of the risk factors by leading a healthy lifestyle and eating healthily.
Nutrition also plays a major role. Diet high in saturated fats and sodium can significantly increase the risk of hypertension. It is therefore recommended that we eat an abundance of whole foods that are low in sodium and high in heart-friendly fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Smoking, as well as excessive alcohol and caffeine intake can also lead to a high blood pressure, in addition to leading a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight.
The likelihood also grows with age.
People who suffer from disorders in the endocrine system, diabetes, high cholesterol, and kidney problems are more commonly affected by elevated blood pressure.
In some persons, hypertension can suddenly rear its ugly head in pregnancy, in which case it has to be treated instantly since it can lead to preterm delivery and other serious complications in both mother and the baby.
Why is it so important to treat high blood pressure?
Elevated blood pressure means that the heart and the blood vessels are under a bigger amount of strain than they should be normally. This condition increases the risk of having a heart attack and/or stroke, kidney disorders and dementia.
The limbs are also affected by an increased blood pressure – the peripheral arteries in the legs suffer too.
What are the warning signs to look for?
The dangerous feature of hypertension is that it can go without symptoms. Some people are not even aware that they suffer from it. It is therefore necessary to have regular health checkups.
The following symptoms, however, indicate a dangerous rise in your blood pressure and they have to be treated by a physician immediately:
Bleeding from the nose
A pounding sensation in the neck and in the ears
Blood in urine
A feeling of numbness
Heavy and difficult breathing
A feeling of lightheadedness and frequent dizziness
What are the methods for treating hypertension?
It is essential that you promptly consult your physician in case you notice a rise in your blood pressure.
It can be controlled by a combination of medication and some lifestyle changes.
Moderate exercising is considered as a natural way to control hypertension. When we exercise, the oxygen intake is increased and the blood vessels are widened, not to mention the stress relief that we obtain from being physical active.
What about nutrition?
When it comes to the role of nutrition, DASH diet is the recommended option not only for reducing blood pressure, but for improving and maintaining health in general. The abbreviation DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It includes the following: consuming dairy products that have a low fat content; eating a variety of fresh produce; choosing fish, poultry, grains and nuts as a rich source of protein rather than foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats.
According to scientific findings, reduced intake of sodium also plays a major role in lowering blood pressure.
An extensive study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has proven the highly beneficial effect that this diet has on lowering blood pressure. The results of the research were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2001.
Dr. Denise Simons-Morton, a DASH coauthor has concluded: “Following the DASH diet and reducing the intake of dietary sodium are two non-drug approaches that work to control blood pressure.”
There are natural supplements that can also be used for lowering blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids have a beneficial effect on the whole body and the cardiovascular system in particular. The precious mineral potassium also plays a big role in maintaining normal blood pressure.
Sometimes we all tend to neglect the signs that our body send us. Let us not forget that we should take care of our health and well-being before anything else.