Specific Health Concern >> Treat Mild High Blood Pressure
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In this video, Dr. Huntoon discusses Blood Pressure and what you need to know about yours.
When you go to your doctor and have your blood pressure taken, you need to have them do it this specific way and share the numbers with you.
If they take it any other way, they are misleading you with any results that may be considered high, without taking it this specific way.
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About 1 in 3 U.S. adults—an estimated 68 million—have high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls as it circulates through your body. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can cause health problems if it stays too high for a long time. High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, some of the leading causes of death in the United States. High blood pressure is called the "silent killer" because it often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people don't realize they have it. That is why it's important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. The good news is that you can take steps to prevent high blood pressure, or to treat it if it is already high.
Measuring Your Blood Pressure
Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless. A doctor or health professional wraps an inflatable cuff with a pressure gauge around your arm to squeeze the blood vessels. Then he or she listens to your pulse with a stethoscope while releasing air from the cuff and watching the gauge. The gauge measures blood pressure in millimeters of mercury, which is abbreviated as mmHg. This should always be done in 3 positions every doctor visit (seated, standing and laying down).
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure in your vessels when your heart rests between beats. If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say "120 over 80" or write "120/80 mmHg." The difference between the two numbers tells us the Pulse Pressure, or the amount of stress on the heart with each cycle of pumping. You always want to know what your Pulse Pressure is when having your blood pressure taken.
Effects of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can damage your health in many ways. For instance, it can harden the arteries, decreasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. This reduced flow can cause:
- Chest pain, also called angina.
- Heart failure, which occurs when the heart can't pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs.
- Heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle cells die from a lack of oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
- High blood pressure can burst or block arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain, causing a stroke.
Some health conditions, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors, can put people at a higher risk for developing high blood pressure. However, everyone can take steps to lower their blood pressure.
Healthy behaviors contribute to keeping your blood pressure low, which in turn decreases your risk of heart disease. Conversely, unhealthy activities can put you at a higher risk.
- Diet - Sodium is the element in salt that can raise blood pressure. Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed and restaurant foods. Eating too much sodium can increase blood pressure. Not eating enough potassium (from fruits and vegetables) can also increase blood pressure.
- Weight - Being overweight can cause high blood pressure.
- Physical Inactivity - Not getting enough exercise can make you gain weight, which can lead to high blood pressure.
- Alcohol Use - Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure.
- Tobacco Use - Smoking raises your risk for high blood pressure.
Family History and Heredity
High blood pressure can run in families. People can inherit genes that make them more likely to develop the condition. The risk for high blood pressure can increase even more when heredity is combined with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking cigarettes and eating a poor diet. Find out more about genetics and diseases on CDC's Public Health Genomics Web site.
Race or Ethnicity - African Americans have a higher prevalence of high blood pressure than other ethnicities
Because blood pressure tends to rise as people get older, everyone's risk for high blood pressure increases with age. In addition, some medical conditions can also raise your risk of high blood pressure.
Age - Blood pressure tends to rise as people get older.
Diabetes - Diabetes affects the body's use of a hormone called insulin. This hormone tells the body to remove sugar from the blood. With diabetes, the body either doesn't make enough insulin, can't use its own insulin as well as it should, or both. This causes sugars to build up in the blood. About 60% of people who have diabetes also have high blood pressure.
Prehypertension - (blood pressure levels that are slightly higher than normal) increases the risk that you will go on to develop chronic high blood pressure. Should You Medicate Pre-Hypertension?
Treat high blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, your medical doctor may prescribe medications in addition to lifestyle changes.
All drugs may have side effects, so talk with your doctor on a regular basis. As your blood pressure improves, your doctor will want to monitor it often.
Medicines Two Choices for You
Eat a healthy diet. Eating healthfully can help keep your blood pressure down. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which provide nutrients such as potassium and fiber. Also, eat foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Avoid sodium by limiting the amount of salt you add to your food. Be aware that many processed foods and restaurant meals are high in sodium.
Studies have shown that people who eat a healthy diet can lower their blood pressure. For more information on healthy diet and nutrition, see CDC's Nutrition and Physical Activity Program Web site.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can raise your blood pressure. Losing weight can help you lower your blood pressure. To find out whether your weight is healthy, doctors often calculate a number called the body mass index (BMI). Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure a person’s excess body fat.
Most Americans Should Consume Less Sodium (1,500 mg/day or less)
Most of the sodium we consume is in the form of salt, and the vast majority of sodium we consume is in processed and restaurant foods. Too much sodium is bad for your health. It can increase your blood pressure and your risk for a heart attack and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the first and third killers of men and women in the United States each year.
Current dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that adults in general should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. At the same time, consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. However, if you are in the following population groups, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, and meet the potassium recommendation (4,700 mg/day) with food:
- You are 51 years of age or older.
- You are African American.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You have diabetes.
- You have chronic kidney disease.
The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population overall and the majority of adults. Nearly everyone benefits from reduced sodium consumption. Eating less sodium can help prevent, or control, high blood pressure.
Most of the sodium we eat comes from packaged, processed, store-bought, and restaurants foods. Only a small amount comes from salt added during cooking and from being added at the table, and most Americans have already exceeded their daily limit of sodium before cooking or adding salt at the table. You can find out how much sodium you are eating by checking the labels on food products and adding up the milligrams of sodium. If at a restaurant, ask for nutritional information facts that include sodium.
Source: Mattes, RD, Donnelly, D. Relative contributions of dietary sodium sources. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 1991;10(4):383–393.
Choose a Heart-Healthy Diet
The DASH eating plan (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a simple heart healthy diet that can help prevent or lower high blood pressure. This diet is LOW in sodium, cholesterol, saturated and total fat, and HIGH in fruits and vegetables, fiber, potassium, and low-fat dairy products.
Making other lifestyle changes, like getting more physical activity, while on the DASH eating plan gives you the biggest benefits. Learn more about the DASH Eating Plan. Working with a Holistic Chiropractor who can help you monitor your blood pressure and address the underlying cause of your high blood pressure is important. By developing a well-rounded multifaceted approach will help you understand how to maintain a normal blood pressure level and what you can do to increase your cardiovascular and blood pressure health.
What You Can Do To reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke
- Know your recommended limits for daily sodium intake.
- Choose foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Read the nutrition label of the foods you purchase.
- Ask for foods with no or low salt at restaurants.
High blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease. People at any age can take steps each day to keep blood pressure levels normal. Working with a Holistic Chiropractor is the best way to develop a life-style for creating normal blood pressure.
If you know your weight and height, you can compute your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site.
Be physically active. Physical activity can help lower blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate physical activities for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
What You Can Do
Check your blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure checked is important because high blood pressure often has no symptoms.
Your doctor can measure your blood pressure, or you can use a machine available at many pharmacies. You can also use a home monitoring device to measure your blood pressure. Make sure you always check your blood pressure in 3 positions to fully understand what your blood pressure is and how your body is reacting to stress. This will help you and your doctor understand the underlying cause of your blood pressure and help you develop a plan for restoring balance to your blood pressure.
Blood Pressure Levels
Systolic: less than 120 mmHg
Diastolic: less than 80 mmHg
At Risk (Prehypertension)
Systolic: 120–139 mmHg
Diastolic: 80–89 mmHg
Systolic: 140 mmHg or higher
Diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the body. High levels in the blood can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Saturated fats come largely from animal fat in the diet, but also from some vegetable oils such as palm oil.
Sodium is the element in salt that can raise blood pressure. Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed and restaurant foods.
Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s use of insulin. Insulin tells the body to remove sugar from the blood. People with diabetes either don't make enough insulin, can't use their own insulin as well as they should, or both.
Don't smoke. Smoking injures blood vessels and speeds up the hardening of the arteries. Further, smoking is a major risk for heart disease and stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. Your doctor can suggest programs to help you quit.
Limit alcohol use. Drinking too much alcohol is associated with high blood pressure.If you drink alcohol, you should do so in moderation—no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.
Many Alternative Healthcare Practitioners such as a Holistic Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Homeopath or Naturopath have had great success in treating the underlying causes of heart disease. Holistic Chiropractors look to understand the cause of your heart disease by determining what in your lifestyle and eating habits are contributing to your heart disease. Treatments are focused on enhancing the diet and balancing your digestion, thus eliminating the source of the heart disease. By developing a well-rounded, multifaceted approach will help you understand how to maintain a normal blood pressure level and what you can do to increase your cardiovascular and blood pressure health.
Developing a healthy lifestyle with proper guidance from your Holistic Chiropractor is the best prevention when considering how to approach your health.
Prevent or Treat Your Health Conditions
Prevent and manage diabetes. You can reduce your risk of diabetes by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active.
About 60% of people who have diabetes also have high blood pressure.2 If you have diabetes, you can lower your risk for high blood pressure by following the healthy guidelines listed here.
Working with a Holistic Chiropractor who can help you monitor your blood pressure and address the underlying cause of your high blood pressure is important. By developing a well-rounded, multifaceted approach will help you understand how to maintain a normal blood pressure level and what you can do to increase your cardiovascular and blood pressure health.
Lifestyle changes are just as important as taking medications.
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Advanced Alternative Medicine Center
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Dr. Richard A. Huntoon