How Is Your Blood Pressure?

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By Kay Leaman, HealthyDay HealthyLife

If we don’t have high blood pressure (HBP), we probably know someone who does. Many people accept the fact that, because HBP runs in the family, they will either be diagnosed with it or weren’t surprised when they were.

It has been said that heredity loads the gun, but it’s our lifestyle that pulls the trigger. This isn’t to say that we won’t ever be diagnosed with HBP, but it does mean that taking care of ourselves can lessen the impact this common disease has on our health.

What is HBP? It is the pressure of the blood in the circulatory system, often measured for diagnosis since it is closely related to the force and rate of the heartbeat + the diameter + elasticity of the arterial walls. The Systolic (1st) number indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against the arterial walls when the heart beats. The Diastolic (2nd) number indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against the arterial walls while the heart is resting between beats.

More attention is given to the Systolic pressure as a major risk factor for those over age 50. This number rises due to an increasing stiffness of the large arteries, long term buildup of plaque and an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease. The blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood pumped by the heart and the diameter of arteries.
WebMd states that the exact causes are unknown, but things that can play a role are: smoking, excess weight, lack of physical activity, salt, alcohol (daily), stress, age or genetics. The primary causes appear to be lifestyle, the environment and how the body ages.

Regulating blood pressure is a complex interplay of many factors stemming from the brain, heart, arteries and kidneys. There are also micronutrients that act on arterial smooth muscles, heart brain and kidneys.

Calcium and magnesium play a role in muscle contractions and relaxation. If the smooth muscle is relaxed the arteries will open, reducing resistance and normalizing blood pressure. This is just one simple factor.

Here are 13 lifestyle choices that can help maintain a healthy blood pressure (My belief is, if I lead a healthy lifestyle and am diagnosed with HBP at 80 instead of 52, I’ve beaten the odds. Both of my parents had HBP from their 60s on. I’m in my 60s now and still have a healthy blood pressure. So, the choices I’ve made are paying off.):

1. Lose weight.
2. Exercise regularly.
3. Choose healthy foods (read food labels, cut back on sugar).
4. Reduce sodium intake.
5. Limit alcohol.
6. Quit smoking.
7. Cut back on caffeine.
8. Reduce stress (change expectations, focus on issues you can control, take time to relax and do activities you enjoy, practice gratitude).
9. Monitor your blood pressure.
10. Get support from family and friends.
11. Take a high-grade quality supplement.
12. Get quality sleep.
13. Bonus: Eating two ounces of dark chocolate (65%+) a day can lower BP by 10%, practicing Tai Chi has been found to lower BP, and garlic has also been shown to lower BP.

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