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July 2010  
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The Low-Down on High Blood Pressure
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The Low-Down on High Blood Pressure
Kick hypertension to the curb with a few tips and some willpower.

With nearly one in three adults suffering from high blood pressure, there’s no better time to get the world population back in tiptop shape. Uncontrolled hypertension can result in stroke, kidney failure and heart failure – all without warning. Known as a “silent disease,” high blood pressure can sneak up on anyone at anytime. Fortunately, however, the risk of hypertension-related complications can be reduced. And while a doctor may prescribe effective medications to keep your pressure under control, there are many things you can do to take your health into your own hands! Here are some natural tips to avoid a trip to the ER:

  1. Shape up and trim down: Extra weight means extra digits on your blood pressure reading. So, doctors recommend a DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Try to keep your meals around 2,000 calories a day with seven to eight servings of grains, four to five servings of vegetables, four to five servings of fruit and two to three servings of low-fat or nonfat dairy foods. Nuts and legumes should also make an appearance in your diet, but keep the sweets to a minimum (about five servings per week). Alcohol and sodium/salt should definitely be limited, too. 

Pay attention to your BMI (body mass index) as well, making sure you’re in the normal range of 18.5 – 24.9. If you’re not, then make it your goal to trim down; even losing 10 pounds can help reduce or prevent high blood pressure! Exercise, therefore, is another must. However, a workout doesn’t have to be a marathon training session. Just 30 minutes of physical activity for most of the week will help improve your overall health. Take it slow with a walk or play catch with your little one – it all counts.

  1. Say no to stimulants: Because caffeine and cigarette smoke contain stimulants, they elevate your blood pressure. One or two cups of fresh ground coffee can raise pressure to an unhealthy Stage 1, and cigarettes, of course, do their fair share of bodily damage. Any nicotine product in general will cause your blood vessels to constrict and your heart to beat faster, which quickly raises your blood pressure. Quitting will not only help you lower your long-term blood pressure, but you’ll greatly reduce your chances of suffering from heart disease or a heart attack. If you’re a coffee lover, consider other ways to get your fix, or at least start by cutting back.
  2. Stop Stressing: Studies have shown that people under stress experience a significant rise in blood pressure. If you are overweight or have a family history of hypertension, stress can take an even greater toll on your body. Help out your heart with a walk, meditation or relaxing music. Many experts even suggest that a hot bath for only 15 minutes can help lower high blood pressure for several hours!

Simple lifestyle changes can have a dramatic, positive impact on high blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about how to take better care of your body with or without the help of medication; you may find that you’re in more control of your hypertension than you think. Need to re-evaluate your fast food addiction or smoking habit? Go think it over – on a 30-minute walk!


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