Understanding Blood Pressure

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blood pressureAccording to the CDC, 75 million Americans have high blood pressure. And another one in three Americans are at risk for developing high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States. The American Heart Association now defines high blood pressure as 130/80 mm Hg or higher.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries that carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can damage your heart and cause health problems if it stays high for a long time. High blood pressure is also called hypertension.

There are two numbers when measuring blood pressure. The upper number (systolic reading) measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts. The bottom number (diastolic reading) measures the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats. Both numbers in a blood pressure reading are essential for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure, but doctors primarily focus on the top number (systolic pressure). Research has found that both numbers are equally important in monitoring heart health, however, most studies show a greater risk of stroke and heart disease related to higher systolic pressures compared with elevated diastolic pressures. That’s especially true in people who are 50 and older, which is why doctors tend to monitor the top number more closely. The reason for the difference in risk may be related to the force put on the arteries when blood rushes out of the heart.

Most of us know that exercise, along with weight and stress management, can help us control blood pressure. These are the first things you should do to help support healthy blood pressure. But sometimes, those may not be enough. The following natural techniques can also help lower blood pressure. Speak with your healthcare practitioner to determine which approach is best for you.

Omega 3: Research shows that eating foods that are rich in omega-3s can help lower blood pressure in those that have hypertension. Flaxseeds and salmon are both good sources of omega-3s.  A good quality supplement can also help.

Potassium: Studies have shown that individuals who increase potassium in their diet may experience a reduction in blood pressure. This may be due to potassium causing the blood vessels to widen, or helping the body to excrete sodium. Potassium may be more effective in lowering blood pressure in people who typically consume a lot of salt in their diet. Some studies showed the best results when sodium intake was decreased and potassium intake increased.

Decrease sodium: Most sodium comes from packaged goods. Salt that you add during cooking makes up only about 10% of our sodium consumption, so check the nutrition label when grocery shopping and choose foods that have less than 200 mg of sodium per serving, Ideally, sodium should be limited to 1500mg per day.

Eat a more plant-based diet: Legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains will supply abundant amounts of fiber and protective phytonutrients, many of which are involved in controlling cholesterol or dilating arteries.

Blood Pressure Support Supplement: Pathway offers a comprehensive blood pressure formula that includes supportive nutrients. Coleus forskohlii helps in supporting a healthy mood. Hawthorn is included for its studied benefits for healthy circulation. Magnesium and hops are added to aid in the relaxation of the central nervous system. And, taurine supports the central nervous system and is thought to be helpful in dealing with anxiety.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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