Is hypertension the same as high-blood pressure?
Yes. Hypertension is just the medical word for high blood pressure. Medically speaking, it's defined as having a blood pressure reading of more than 130/80 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) for a long period of time. A hypertensive crisis occurs when there is a reading of 180/120, which indicates a medical emergency.
Your blood pressure is the force your blood flow puts on the walls of your blood vessels. In other words, having high blood pressure means your heart has to work extra hard to pump blood through your body. Keeping your blood pressure under control is very important. This will minimize the risk of dangerous health conditions, like a heart attack, heart failure, or aneurysm.
Do you suffer from hypertension?
As described above, hypertension is another name for high blood pressure. Living with hypertension can increase your risk of serious health complications, like heart disease, stroke, and even death. Nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure, but many people don’t know it.
Many people may suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension) without noticeable symptoms. In some cases, high blood pressure causes sweating, anxiety, or sleeping problems. Some people have also reported a feeling of pounding in the head or ears and chronic headaches or nosebleeds. Monitoring your blood pressure regularly can help you avoid hypertension.
How do you lower high-blood pressure?
In order to lower high blood pressure, you’ll need to commit to managing your blood pressure. Modifying your lifestyle is necessary to normalize blood pressure. By adjusting your habits in the following ways, managing your blood pressure becomes much more achievable:
1. Exercise regularly
The American Heart Association (AHA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that all adults would benefit from 150 minutes of moderately intense, aerobic exercise weekly. That breaks itself neatly into 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. Walking, bicycling, or engaging in the aerobic activity of your choice several times a week, could drastically improve your blood pressure! Physical activity contributes positively to your overall health. Building those habits can be challenging with a busy schedule. But the benefits to maintaining an active lifestyle can’t be over-looked. Healthy diet and exercise reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
2. Manage your stress
Managing stress is always easier said than done. Mindfulness and practices that help reduce stress can go a long way to maintain a low blood pressure. Yoga, meditation, taking warm baths or going on a long walk are techniques that encourage your body and mind to relax. These types of practices can really relieve stress.
Diet is at the top of most doctors’ lists when it comes to changing habits to lower blood pressure. Making sure you eat the right types of food and avoiding triggers will lead to a healthy blood pressure. The following tips are helpful when remembering what and what not to eat in your diet plan:
A: Reduce your salt intake.
Across the globe, people generally consume 9 to 12 grams of salt throughout the day. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends keeping your salt intake to less than 5 grams a day. Lowering salt intake can be beneficial for everyone, regardless of whether or not a person has high blood pressure.
B: East more fruits and vegetables, and less saturated fat.
If you are at risk for developing hypertension, or currently have high blood pressure, you should eat as little saturated fat as possible. The AHA recommends aiming to consume no more than 5-6% of your daily caloric intake from saturated fat. If you eat 2,000 calories per day, no more than 120 of them should be coming from saturated fats. Most saturated fats are solid at room temperature, and have a tendency to increase cholesterol levels. Examples of foods high in saturated fats are:
Fried Chicken skin
Instead, the types of nutrients and foods you should prioritize for a healthy diet are:
Fruits and vegetables
Low-fat dairy products
Poultry (without skin), fish, and nuts
Avoiding trans fat, saturated fat, vegetable oils and animals fats will minimize the chance of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. There are some fats that are considered good fats. Omega 3 and olive oil, as examples, have positive effects on the heart. But, they are still fats and their consumption should be limited because they are still included when considering daily fat intake. The long term health benefits of weight control reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Healthy eating also positively impacts your overall health.
4. Avoiding alcohol and tobacco products
Turning to alcohol, drugs, and tobacco to manage stress regularly will increase your blood pressure. Avoiding those types of substances to manage your stress will have a positive impact on your blood pressure. All these can contribute to high blood pressure, as well as other health complications. Quitting smoking in particular can greatly reduce the risk of hypertension, heart disease, and other negative medical conditions. The AHA recommends that men stick to a maximum of two alcoholic drinks per day. Women should stick to one. The following all count as one-drink:
12 ounce bottle or can of beer
6 ounce of wine
1.5 ounce of (80-proof) liquor
Your doctor can prescribe medication to help manage and treat your hypertension. Medication can only go so far to treat high blood pressure. It's incredibly important to manage your weight so that you do not become dependent upon medications alone. It may take two or more drugs to manage blood pressure effectively. These medications may have side effects. They may also interact negatively with the natural processes your body should be doing on its own. Anyone taking medication should make sure to read the labels of all over-the-counter drugs they may be taking. The two medications could interact negatively with one enough. A negative interaction means the neither medication may do what it’s intended to.
5. Manage your body weight
Like other obesity related illnesses, body weight does contribute to hypertension. A drop in blood pressure usually coincides with weight loss. Losing weight means the heart doesn’t have to work so hard to pump blood around the body. Maintaining a healthy weight by sticking to a balanced diet and caloric intake that matches your size, gender, and activity level will help.
What causes hypertension?
Hypertension can result from multiple factors, but it’s hard to point to one culprit in particular. Environmental factors, like stress, diet, and a sedentary lifestyle, and hormones can both contribute to high blood pressure. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) often causes high blood pressure because the body retains excess fluid in the body. Other conditions that may lead to high blood pressure include:
Type 2 diabetes
Obesity - Body Mass Index (BMI) > 35
Risk factors are easier to gauge when it comes to hypertension:
Age: hypertension is more common in people more than 60 years of age. High blood pressure has a tendency to increase steadily with age due to arteries stiffening and plaque build-up.
Ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups are at higher risk to high blood pressure than others. African Americans are more prone to hypertension than other ethnic groups. This might also be due to obesity being a primary risk factor. African Americans and Latinos are also more at risk for suffering from obesity.
Alcohol and/or tobacco: Using alcohol and/or tobacco regularly can increase blood pressure.
Sex: Males are more prone to high blood pressure than females. Once females reach menopause, their risk increases.
Pre-existing health conditions: Diabetes, CKD, high cholesterol, and heart disease often coincide with high blood pressure.
Diet: Maintaining a high-salt, high-fat diet can contribute to high blood pressure. Low potassium intake and leading a sedentary lifestyle are also contributing factors.
If you do not currently have hypertension, maintaining a healthy diet will help prevent hypertension. As is the case with many medical conditions, disease control and prevention is the best form of treatment. If you know you have high blood pressure, treating obesity can resolve hypertension. If you want to jump start your weight loss journey, look at our medical weight loss programs. We offer products and services at our weight loss clinic to protect against weight gain and resolve health problems. Losing weight could help you resolve your hypertension and other health problems.