I am one of the millions suffering from hypertension or what is better known as high blood pressure. I recently got serious about fighting my high blood pressure when I suffered a really bad headache for three consecutive days.
The pain was so severe that I planned to go to the ER, but first, I checked my blood pressure with my home blood pressure monitoring device, and I am glad I did. My blood pressure reading was critically high. Right then and there, I decided to make a lifestyle change related to my health.
According to NCBI (National Center of Biotechnology Information), approximately 7.5 million people die worldwide annually from high blood pressure (that’s 12.8% of all total deaths each year worldwide due to high blood pressure). Let me repeat that, approximately 7.5 million people die worldwide annually from high blood pressure. That is a staggering statistic, especially when there are steps, we can take to help lower high blood pressure.
I am not a doctor, just someone suffering from high blood pressure who was on two different blood pressure medications. But now I am on a journey to live a longer, better quality of life with lower blood pressure and no medication requirements.
This article is in no way a substitute for working with your doctor. SEE A DOCTOR if you have or believe you have high blood pressure. My goal for writing this article is to share what I have learned and what has worked for me in hopes that it will inspire and motivate you to make a lifestyle change that will lower high blood pressure and enhance your quality of life.
In this article you will learn,
- What is High Blood Pressure?
- High Blood Pressure Numbers
- Is Systolic or Diastolic More Important?
- Top 8 Signs of High Blood Pressure
- What Causes High Blood Pressure and Can High Blood Pressure Be Prevented?
- The Dangers of High Blood Pressure
- Can High Blood Pressure be Cured?
- How to Lower High Blood Pressure?
- High Blood Pressure Medication
- What Should You Do When Your Blood Pressure Is High?
- 5-Steps to Lowering Your High Blood Pressure
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What is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. Do you remember in grade school when you were taught that your heart is the engine that pumps blood throughout your body? Well, high blood pressure means that your engine (your heart) is working harder to pump blood through your body.
Your blood pressure is measured with two sets of numbers (a top and a bottom number) in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
The first set of numbers, the top number, is the systolic number. The systolic number is the force at which your heart pumps blood throughout your body, exerting pressure against your artery walls when your heart beats.
The second set of numbers, the bottom number, is the diastolic pressure, and this measures how much force is being pushed against your artery walls when your heart rests between beats.
High Blood Pressure Numbers
A normal blood pressure reading is lower than 120/80 mm Hg (read as 120 over 80). Once upon a time, you were considered to have high blood pressure if your pressure reached 140/90 mm Hg. However, the American Heart Association now defines high blood pressure as 130/80 mm Hg and higher. This change comes about to help lower high blood pressure early and help folk like you and me get it under control sooner. Below is a chart to help you gauge and understand your blood pressure reading as indicated by the American Heart Association.
90/60 mm Hg or lower may be considered low blood pressure and could be a problem.
Is Systolic or Diastolic More Important?
So, if you are like me, you are wondering which number is most important for you to focus on. Well, the truth is both are important, but what I have learned as a man over the age of 50, we should look at the systolic blood pressure (the top number).
Remember, the systolic number is the force at which your heart pumps blood throughout your body when your heartbeats. As we grow older, our systolic blood pressure rises as our arteries stiffen and narrow due to plaque buildup, vascular disease, and if you are like me, just poor lifestyle habits.
The narrower your arteries, the harder your heart will have to work to pump blood throughout your body, resulting in higher systolic blood pressure.
Top 10 Signs of High Blood Pressure
Typically, there are no visible signs indicating that you have high blood pressure. This is why it is called the silent killer.
But here are 8 signs to be aware of.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
- Blurred vision
- Irregular heartbeat
To verify if you have high blood pressure, you need to check your blood pressure by scheduling an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will take the average of your blood pressure readings over a few visits to diagnose if you have high blood pressure. From there, your doctor will work with you to create a plan to lower your blood pressure.
Next, you need to regularly check your blood pressure at home with your own blood pressure monitoring device to stay on top of your high blood pressure situation.
I strongly encourage you to do all you can to lower high blood pressure before your doctor prescribes medication. And if you are already on high blood pressure meds, then I encourage you to stay on top of your blood pressure readings and work to lower your blood pressure. The best way to stay on top of your blood pressure reading is with an at-home device.
What Causes High Blood Pressure and Can High Blood Pressure Be Prevented?
Again, if you are like me, there are a couple of questions that come to mind. The first is what causes high blood pressure and second, can it be prevented? Well, the answer to these questions is tied together. Some causes of high blood pressure are in our control, and some are not.
First, let’s look at some causes that are not in our control called Essential (Primary) Hypertension. As I researched and learned about factors not in my control when it comes to getting high blood pressure, I learned that I hit the superfecta for causes of Primary high blood pressure.
- A family history of high blood pressure
- Race/ethnicity: More common in African heritage than whites
- Gender (Male)
- Age (high blood pressure happens over time)
Again, as I was researching high blood pressure, I learned that the factors I can control (Secondary Hypertension), I was not controlling. Secondary hypertension is due to underlying conditions.
While I can’t control my superfecta primary hypertension, I do have some say in my secondary conditions, and perhaps you do too.
I notice that when I worked on controlling what I can control my blood pressure dramatically dropped. Here are some of the factors we can control.
- Being overweight
- High cholesterol
- Bad eating habits/unhealthy diet
- Lack of exercise
The Dangers of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a serious condition and can cause or be linked to,
- Damaged blood vessels
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Decreased kidney function
- Impaired vision
- Loss of memory and/or comprehension
- Ultimately death
Can High Blood Pressure be Cured?
No one wants to be on medication, I know I don’t. I hate the fact that I was on multiple medications for multiple reasons, and high blood pressure was one of the reasons for my daily meds.
This is certainly true for Secondary Hypertension; if you can identify and work on resolving the underlying causes of your Secondary Hypertension causes, you will have a greater chance of lowering your blood pressure to normal readings.
The great news is that I have learned that with exercise and a proper diet that consists of superfoods, lowering my high blood pressure is possible without medication.
Just after 4 short months of my 5-step approach, my blood pressure went from the 160s/100s while using two high blood pressure medications to the number you see below with now one blood pressure medication which I will soon be off. My readings are now consistently around 113/74.
How to Lower High Blood Pressure
I have two goals when it comes to my high blood pressure; one is a short-term goal, and the other is a long-term goal. My short-term goal is to lower my blood pressure levels to a consistently acceptable range. My long-term goal is to get off the high blood pressure medication.
I have learned that there are basically two ways to treat high blood pressure, one is with medication and the other is a more preferable method which is a lifestyle change. Since my long-term goal is to get off the meds, I am focused on a serious lifestyle change to accomplish both my short- and long-term goals.
High Blood Pressure Medication
Hopefully, you will not require medication, but if you do, I pray you will not require multiple meds to control your high blood pressure. You can read about the different kinds of blood pressure medication on the Heart.org website.
Taking high blood pressure medication is a process in which you and your doctor may go through multiple phases before getting your medication and dosage just right. So be prepared to try different meds and different dosages.
What Should You Do When Your Blood Pressure is High
It’s important to note that high blood pressure is a chronic condition that requires ongoing management. Regular follow-up with your healthcare provider is essential for managing high blood pressure and reducing the risk of complications.
If your blood pressure is high right now, here are some steps you can take:
- The first thing you should do is to try to relax and calm down. Stress and anxiety can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure, so taking a few deep breaths and practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga may help to lower your blood pressure.
- If you are experiencing severe symptoms such as chest pain, severe headache, or difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention by calling emergency services or going to the nearest emergency room.
- If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and are experiencing symptoms of a hypertensive crisis such as severe headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, or visual changes, seek medical attention immediately. Your healthcare provider may need to adjust your medication or provide additional treatment to lower your blood pressure and prevent complications.
- In general, if your blood pressure is consistently high, it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to develop a long-term management plan that may include lifestyle modifications, medication, and regular blood pressure monitoring.
5-Steps to Lowering Your High Blood Pressure
Making changes in your lifestyle can make a huge difference when it comes to resolving your high blood pressure. It certainly did for me. Before you can make changes, you need to know your numbers, and you do this by taking regular blood pressure readings. Read my blog on How to Take Your Blood Pressure.
The changes I made that helped me and I believe will certainly help you to lower your high blood pressure are,
1. High Blood Pressure Diet
There are several diets or eating plans that you can try that will help reduce your high blood pressure. I am sold on the DASH Diet. DASH stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. The DASH Diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, seeds, oils, whole grain, legumes, and beans while still enjoying dairy and meats. To learn more about this scientifically proven diet, pick up my FREE e-book, The DASH Diet: Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
According to the Mayo Clinic, you may reduce your blood pressure by about 1 mm Hg with each kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of weight you lose. If you are wondering what constitutes your proper weight to your height, see the chart below.
3. Manage Your Stress
This one is a biggie for me. When my stress level goes up, so does my blood pressure. Knowing your stress triggers and managing those triggers will go a long way in helping to reduce your high blood pressure.
Being physically active can help take care of many of the above Secondary Hypertension causes. Exercise will get your blood pumping, reduce stress, and keep your weight under control.
You need to aim for 150+ minutes (2.5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or at least 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity or a combination of the two. Read my article on Why Exercise is Important After the Age 40.
5. Change Bad Habits
If you smoke stop it; if you drink alcohol in excess, stop it. There is no more to say about smoking other than stopping it!
Drinking alcohol in excess may be contributing to your high blood pressure, but it does not mean you have to stop enjoying alcohol altogether.
According to the American Heart Association, if you are serious about lowering your blood pressure, men should have on average no more than one to two drinks per day and one drink per day for women. So, what constitutes a drink? In general, one drink = 12 ounces of beer | 5 ounces of wine | 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
Check out this great video, How High Is Too High For Blood Pressure? Cardiologist Explains by Talking with Doctors
- Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels.
- A normal blood pressure reading is lower than 120/80 mm Hg (read as 120 over 80).
- Typically, there are no visible signs indicating that you have high blood pressure. This is why it is called the silent killer. But there are some signs to look out for.
- To verify if you have high blood pressure, you need to check your blood pressure by scheduling an appointment with your doctor.
- Making changes in your lifestyle can make a huge difference when it comes to resolving your high blood pressure.
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