May is designated as “High Blood Pressure Education Month.” It is the time of year to bring awareness and focus on hypertension control and stroke prevention. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a serious concern for millions of Americans, especially adults because one in every three adults already suffers from high blood pressure. High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because there is often no warning sign. This can lead to cardiovascular disease.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
- Excessive sodium intake can lead to not only high blood pressure but diabetes too.
- Age and a poor diet increase the risk of developing high blood pressure at any age and heart conditions.
- Sleep apnea can cause oxygen levels to decrease resulting in elevated blood pressure and stress on the heart and lungs. It is also linked to developing the risk of hypertension.
- Obesity is linked to many chronic diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes, and possible stroke.
- Smoking and tobacco products cause clogging of the arteries and blood to the kidneys to become constricting. This can lead to heart disease.
- Drugs and alcohol can add stress to the heart and arteries causing major damage.
- Stress has been linked to a wide variety of health conditions including high blood pressure.
- A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain which can put undue pressure on the heart increasing the risk of hypertension.
- Kidney disease can secrete too much of the hormone called cortisol, which can lead to hypertension.
- Thyroid problems produce too many hormones making the heart beat faster than normal and increasing high blood pressure. This can cause hypertension.
- Medication side effects can lead to high blood pressure or hypertension by constricting the blood vessels.
High blood pressure can be a persistent problem. It can get worse with poor diet such as eating highly processed and high-fat foods. By starting a few new food habits, including counting calories and portion control, you can lower blood pressure and reduce medication intake. It is important to track what you eat, avoid salt, and know what you are eating.
Foods That Help Reduce High Blood Pressure
- Blueberries. Blueberries contain lots of antioxidants to help fight against serious illnesses, including cancer. They are high in fiber and loaded with resveratrol which is effective in reducing blood pressure.
- Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are packed with potassium and magnesium minerals that help fight against hypertension.
- Dairy products. Dairy is the best source of calcium, and individuals who consume lots of high calcium and low-fat dairy products can drastically reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure.
- Beets. Beets contain nitric oxide which helps to lower blood pressure by opening the blood vessels.
- Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids which help to lower blood pressure and hypertension.
- Cereals. Cereal that is high in fiber and whole-grain foods help to lower cholesterol and reduce hypertension.
- Avocados. Avocados reduce the risk of hypertension and lower blood pressure.
- Fatty fish. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and can reduce blood pressure in people who are overweight. Omega 3 fatty acids also reduce inflammation.
- Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds play an important role in a well-rounded healthy diet because they can lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol in the blood. Flaxseed is a good source of fiber and omega 3 fatty acids which help to reduce inflammation and improve the heart and circulatory system.
- Brocolli. Broccoli has loads of magnesium, potassium, and calcium that can reduce damage to arteries. Broccoli is also known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
High blood pressure is a condition determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps. When the pumping of blood has too much pressure in the blood vessels, it can become problematic and damage the vessels leading to a variety of health issues.
A blood pressure reading is given in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and has two numbers. The top number is the systolic pressure which measures the pressure in your arteries while your heart beats.
The bottom number is the diastolic pressure that measures the pressure in your arteries between beats. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases the risk of serious health problems such as heart attack and stroke.
Read also: Dangers of Ignoring High Blood Pressure Diagnosis
What High Blood Pressure Can Cause
- A stroke is a common side effect of high blood pressure. People who suffer from hypertension are more likely to have a stroke.
- Heart disease is the primary cause of death related to high blood pressure. If hypertension becomes an acute problem, then the risk of heart failure may also become a possibility.
- Atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries, can directly lead to coronary artery disease. If left untreated, atherosclerosis can develop into serious heart problems.
- Kidney disease can occur when the blood flow is restricted to the kidneys. This can cause significant damage over time and possibly lead to needing dialysis or a transplant.
- Erectile difficulty is a serious concern for most adult males because it can cause uncomfortable lifestyle challenges. But there is medication that can counteract this effect to help lead a more normal life.
- Preeclampsia is a condition that emerges prior to or during pregnancy and needs to be monitored to ensure the healthy development of the unborn child. It is also important to monitor the mother’s liver, kidneys, and brain to prevent damage.
- Eye disease can develop when the retina is damaged by the restricted blood flow caused by high blood pressure.
Read also: Do I Need to See a Cardiologist for High Blood Pressure?
If you are concerned about your blood pressure and would like to speak to a cardiologist in Lafayette, LA, we can help you. Dr. Corwin A. Thomas is the top-notch cardiologist specialist in the Acadiana area who offers an array of services related to getting heart-healthy. Dr. Thomas and his staff will do their part to care for your heart because nothing beats it.
Hypertension and Nutrition – Cleveland Clinic