Definition of High Blood Pressure

Dr. Gabe Mirkin's Fitness and Health e-Zine
October 28, 2012

	Ninety-one percent of North Americans will develop high 
blood pressure that puts them at increased risk for heart 
attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and diabetes and premature 
death.   Lowering high blood pressure helps to prevent disease 
and prolong life.  Blood pressure has two numbers, *systolic, 
when the heart contracts, and *diastolic, when it relaxes.  The 
heart contraction (systolic) is most important. If your SYSTOLIC 
blood pressure is greater than 120, you have high blood pressure 
and should change your lifestyle to lower it.   If it is greater 
than 140, your doctor usually prescribes pills in addition to 
lifestyle changes. 
	WHEN TO TAKE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE: Take your blood pressure 
just before you go to bed at night. Blood pressure is usually 
lower then and just after you wake in the morning.  Blood 
pressures that do not drop at bedtime or are high when you wake 
in the morning increase risk for heart attacks and strokes.
	SALT: For most people, excess salt intake is associated 
with high blood pressure and a modest reduction in salt intake 
for four or more weeks will help lower it somewhat (Cochrane 
Database Syst Rev.  March, 2004;3).  However, many people do not 
develop high blood pressure when they take in large amounts of 
salt, and most people who have high blood pressure will not have 
a lowering of blood pressure when they try to restrict salt. 
People are classified as salt sensitive and salt insensitive on 
the basis of whether their blood pressure rises with excess salt 
intake, but there is no readily available lab test to diagnose 
those who are salt sensitive. People who are overweight, diabetic 
or do not exercise are the ones most likely to develop high blood 
pressure from excess salt intake.  These people should restrict 
salt.  Exercisers sweat heavily and usually need to take in a lot 
of salt to replace their losses. 
	FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: High blood 
pressure is associated with higher salt, alcohol or protein 
intake, and lower potassium, calcium or magnesium intake (Clin 
Care. Jan, 2002;5(1):9-19).  Other risk factors for hypertension 
include obesity and lack of regular physical activity (European 
Heart Journal, Dec. 2011;32(24):3081-7).
* ALCOHOL:  Women who take one alcoholic drink a day and men who 
take two are at decreased risk for high blood pressures. Taking 
more than that, or binging even occasionally, raises blood 
pressure.
* OVERWEIGHT:  The fatter you are, the higher the blood pressure. 
* LACK OF EXERCISE:  Exercise often lowers high blood pressure.
* NOT EATING LOTS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES:  A diet rich in 
fruits and vegetables and low in saturated and total fat (DASH 
diet) lowers high blood pressure.
* EATING TOO MUCH MEAT.  A high-protein diet increases risk of 
high blood pressure. 
          Neither caffeine nor nicotine has been shown to cause 
sustained high blood pressure. 
	LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO LOWER HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: 
* Lose weight if overweight
* Exercise regularly
* Eat a diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, 
beans, nuts and other seeds, and low in saturated fat (red meat) 
and refined carbohydrates.  Avoid sugared drinks and if 
overweight, reduce your intake of foods made from flour or with 
added sugars.
* If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink a day. (A 
drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 2/3rds of shot 
glass of alcohol)
* Check your blood pressure just before you go to bed at night.

 

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