Maintaining a Healthy Blood Pressure

By: Brenda Williams

High blood pressure or hypertension damages the coronary artery lining and eventually coronary blockages form. As blood pressure goes up, the blood strikes the side of the arterial wall with greater force. This causes some injury to the lining of the artery and the wall starts to thicken. Then the blood flow is restricted and the heart has to work harder.

Blood pressure is measured as systolic over diastolic. Systolic measures the heart at work, or the pumping of blood as the heart contracts. Diastolic measures the pumping of blood while the heart is resting.

A normal measurement is less than 130 systolic and less than 85 diastolic. The ideal is less than 120/80. When your measurement is 140/90 or higher you have high blood pressure or hypertension. Even slight hypertension puts one at risk for a heart attack.

Fortunately, hypertension can be prevented. Finnish researchers found that magnesium and potassium are very powerful blood pressure regulators. A diet, which is high in these two minerals, is very effective in controlling blood pressure. Bananas, milk, yogurt, wheat germ, and strawberries are good sources of these minerals. These minerals are available in supplements but you should check with your doctor before taking the supplements.

A diet high in fruits and veggies is also helpful. Nutritionists recommend eight daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Another recommended food is salsa and a half-cup of salsa is equal to a full serving of vegetables.

Most overweight people tend to have high blood pressure. If you are overweight you can lower you blood pressure three points by losing just ten pounds. Research shows that people who eat a breakfast that is low in fat but high in nutrients can do this. And even if you are not overweight, the low fat high nutrient breakfast will still help keep your blood pressure at optimal levels.

Another important factor in lowering blood pressure is relaxation. Epinephrine and cortisol are two stress hormones that raise blood pressure. Engaging in an activity that relaxes you decreases the levels of these hormones. A sure fire way to do this is to introduce some humor into your life. Read a funny book; watch a comedy sitcom or attend a comedy show. Whatever causes you to laugh will also relax you.

Moderate exercise is also effective in preventing hypertension. You don't have to work up a sweat at your local gym. Engaging in any aerobic activity that you enjoy is just as effective. The easiest one is walking if that is something you enjoy doing. However, when involved in any aerobic activity, you need to perform it for at least thirty minutes to derive the maximum benefit.

Also, remember when doing aerobic exercises you should always be "in oxygen." This means you should not be short of breath at any time you are actively engaged. For example, if you are walking, you should follow a pace at which you can carry on a conversation and not be out of breath. If you don't have a partner to converse with, try singing.

There are many hypertension medications available and if you have severe hypertension, your doctor will certainly prescribe these. However, many of these drugs have side effects, some of which are just beginning to be discovered. It is very much to your advantage if you can maintain your blood pressure at healthy levels through lifestyle changes and avoid the use of prescription drugs.

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