High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most common medical problems affecting about one quarter of all Canadians and can be thought of as looking at the stress on the heart. This occurs when excessive force is exerted against artery walls as the heart pumps blood. This silent disease has no symptoms until it has reached an advanced and dangerous stage, at which point it may produce headache, light headedness, ringing in the ears and rapid heart beat. If uncontrolled, hypertension may lead to a heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. It can also damage the eyes and other organs.
WHAT IS BLOOD PRESSURE?
It is the force of blood pushing against your blood vessels. Your blood pressure is at its greatest when your heart contracts and is pumping blood. When your heart rests between beats, on the other hand, it falls. This is called diastolic blood pressure. Blood pressure is always given as these two numbers: the systolic and diastolic pressures. The numbers are usually written one above or before the other, with systolic first, for example, 120/80.
IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE REALLY A BIG DEAL?
When your blood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder then it should to pump blood to all parts of the body. This condition is called the “Silent Killer” because most people feel healthy and don’t even know that the have it. If it is not treated, it can cause:
- heart attack
- kidney problems
- eye problems
HOW TO PREVENT IT?
If your blood pressure is not high now, take steps to prevent it from becoming high. Some steps are as follows: aim for a better weight, choose foods lower in fat and calories, eat smaller portions, try not to gain extra weight, loose weight if you are over weight and be physically active everyday.
Some nutrition considerations are, eat less salt and sodium, read the food labels, use spices herbs and salt free seasoning instead of salt. Use only small amounts of cured or smoked meats for flavour. Eat more fruits and vegetables in meals and as snacks. Add more vegetables to stews and casseroles. Serve fruits as a dessert more often.
Some beverage considerations are, cut back on alcoholic beverages. Alcohol raises blood pressure. Alcohol also adds calories and may make it harder to lose weight. Men who drink should have no more then two drinks a day. Women who drink should have no more then one drink a day. Pregnant women should not drink any alcohol.
LOWER YOUR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
You may be able to lower or keep your high blood pressure down. Practice these steps: maintain a healthy weight, be more active everyday, eat fewer foods high in salt and sodium and cut back on alcoholic beverages. You may also need medicine to lower your blood pressure. Tell you doctor about any medicine you are already taking.
Follow these tips if you take medicine:
- Take your medicine the way your doctor tells you. To help you remember, plan to take your meds at the same time everyday.
- Tell the doctor right away if the medicine makes you feel strange or sick. The doctor may change your meds.
- Make sure you don’t miss any days. Refill your prescription before you use up your meds.
- Have your blood pressure checked often to be sure that your meds are working the way you and your doctor planned.
- Don’t stop taking your meds if your blood pressure is ok – that means the medicine is working.
Classification of Blood Pressure for Adults aged 18 years and older
|Category||Systolic BP (mmHg)|
|Optimal||Less than 120||Less than 80|
|Normal||Less than 130||Less than 85|
|Stage 1 Hypertension||140-159||90-99|
|Stage 2 Hypertension||160-179||100-109|
|Stage 3 Hypertension||180 and above||110 and above|
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With a decade in the health & fitness industry Joseph Martino is an Internationally recognized Fitness Professional, Advisor to the Humber College Health & Fitness Promotion Program, Canfitpro Pro Trainer, Master Trainer in several disciplines and previous trainer of the Kingdom of Bahrain Shakia.