A family history of high blood pressure doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with this condition. High blood pressure can be impacted by genetic predisposition, but it’s also possible to control and change many of the factors that contribute to the damage caused by high blood pressure or hypertension. Diet, activity, stress management and physical fitness can all reduce the negative impact on your overall well-being caused by high blood pressure.

What Do the Numbers Mean
When you get your blood pressure taken, you get two numbers as a result.

  • The higher number, or systolic pressure, measures the pressure against your arterial walls when the heart is pumping or contracted fully.
  • The diastolic or lower number measures the pressure of your blood against your arterial walls while the heart is at rest.

If your arteries are unable to flex and aid in blood flow, the rest of your body suffers.

Body Parts Impacted By High Blood Pressure
If your arteries are inflexible due to a high fat or plaque content caused by an unhealthy diet or smoking, the following organs will have to work harder or will function inefficiently:

  • Your heart. Your blood is an amazing fluid that delivers oxygen and nutrients to the cells in your body. It also collects waste from your cells and takes them to the organs that clear away toxins. If your arteries aren’t supple and helpful, your heart must work harder.
  • Your cleansing organs. The liver, kidneys, digestive organs and lungs all clean toxins from carbon dioxide to the chemicals in your sweat and urine. If your arteries aren’t moving things along efficiently, not only is your heart working harder to move blood around your body, but your cleansing organs may be overloaded with toxins they can’t shed.

What Are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Sadly, there are no symptoms of high blood pressure, which is one of the reasons that makes it dangerous.

  • It is critically important that we all get our regular physicals done and get our blood pressure monitored on a regular basis.
  • For some people with extremely high blood pressure, chronic headaches may develop, but by that point, damage may have already been done.

What Can You Do To Avoid the Damage of High Blood Pressure

  • Watch your salt intake – This doesn’t mean that you must live on bland foods forever. If you like certain foods with extra salt, add it. However, if you tend to add salt, every time you sit down to eat, you may not need as much as you think. Be aware. Avoid foods that are high in salt like pickles.
  • Monitor your alcohol intake – More than two drinks per day is not healthy for anybody.
  • Exercise – Walk with a friend instead of sitting down for coffee together. Go for a bike ride with your grandchild. Move your body through space. It will reward you later.
  • Stretch – Many exercise programs such as yoga and tai chi will improve your flexibility, promote great balance and help to lower your blood pressure.
  • Monitor your stress level – Identify people and situations that add to your stress and find out ways to keep yourself away from these people or situations. Organize your life and lifestyle to reduce tension at workplace and home and it will not cause your blood pressure to fluctuate.

A diagnosis of high blood pressure doesn’t necessarily mean a lifetime of intrusive medications or a bland diet for the rest of your days. What the diagnosis does give you is time and makes you aware of changes that you need to bring to your lifestyle. Getting a grip on your high blood pressure via the proper medical and personal care steps can give you years of healthy living if you get on top of the condition and manage it well.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Lia Crispell, CRNP

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