According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) about 75 million American adults (29%) have high blood pressure—that’s 1 in every 3 American adults.
And according to many experts, the numbers are on the rise.
Virtually anyone, including children, can develop high blood pressure. Conversely, many cases of high blood pressure can be minimized and even eliminated through lifestyle changes.
Risks of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure greatly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the United States.
Let me make one thing clear; I am not a medical professional. However, I am someone who has had hypertension that put me at grave risk of serious health conditions like heart disease and stroke.
Years ago, when I was nearly 60 pounds heavier than I am now, my blood pressure was through the roof. My doctor didn’t pull any punches when she said, “You either get your weight and change your sedentary lifestyle, or I have no choice but to put you on medication for blood pressure. You’re at risk for heart disease and stroke.”
That was the wake-up call I needed. It didn’t take much for me to own up to what the root cause of my health condition was; my eating which depleted my energy. Without much energy I certainly didn’t feel like exercising.
I am no longer at the same risk I was due to lifestyle changes, specifically what I eat and the type of exercise I do.
My blood pressure is in the “very good” range. This is a direct result of my “exercise rich” lifestyle.
Today, my resting heart rate fluctuates between 50 – 55. Just yesterday, my dentist checked my heart-rate. It was 53.
For some that would seem low but considering the amount of exercise I do including running, weight training and yoga, it’s actually very good.
Sadly, a great many people would rather pop a pill rather than look at their own contribution to poor health. In the moment, it may seem (and be) easier to simply accept that this is the way it is, rather than make much-needed changes that will improve the quality of their life. Yet, over the long-term, this is NOT the easy way to go. The complications from high-blood pressure can severely limit one’s quality of life.
What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is a term that is used to acknowledge that a person’s blood pressure is above what is considered normal. High blood pressure is also called hypertension.
One’s blood pressure is directly related to how effectively their heart is working to pump blood around their body. When their heart and blood vessels are working efficiently, their blood pressure is normal. If, on the other hand, their heart is working too hard, their blood pressure is high.
Mayo Clinic Findings about High Blood Pressure
This section comes directly from the Mayo Clinic website. For the full post go to https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410
The excessive pressure on your artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, as well as organs in your body. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to complications including:
- Heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications.
- Aneurysm. Increased blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening.
- Heart failure. To pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels, the heart has to work harder. This causes the walls of the heart’s pumping chamber to thicken (left ventricular hypertrophy). Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs, which can lead to heart failure.
- Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys. This can prevent these organs from functioning normally.
- Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes. This can result in vision loss.
- Metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is a cluster of disorders of your body’s metabolism, including increased waist circumference; high triglycerides; low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol; high blood pressure and high insulin levels. These conditions make you more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
- Trouble with memory or understanding. Uncontrolled high blood pressure may also affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Trouble with memory or understanding concepts is more common in people with high blood pressure.
- Dementia. Narrowed or blocked arteries can limit blood flow to the brain, leading to a certain type of dementia (vascular dementia). A stroke that interrupts blood flow to the brain also can cause vascular dementia.
End of Mayo Clinic Post
Common factors that can lead to high blood pressure include:
- A diet high in salt, fat, and/or cholesterol.
- Chronic conditions such as kidney and hormone problems, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
- Family history, especially if your parents or other close relatives have high blood pressure.
- Lack of physical activity.
Granted, we can’t change our family history. That’s a given. What we can change is our eating and exercise.
10 lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure and keep it down.
- Make the decision to take control of your health
- Lose excess weight
- Eat a healthy diet (this will help with the weight)
- Exercise (this will help with the weight)
- Reduce sodium in your diet
- Eliminate (or at least reduce) alcohol
- Quit smoking
- Cut back on caffeine
- Reduce stress
One of the most important steps you can take is making the decision to take control of your health. Far too many people rely on others to tell them what they should or should not do. You, and only you, can make this decision.
Of the many contributing factors to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, your diet is likely the most important when it comes to long-term health.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the healthiest way to eat is a WFPB diet.
Food affects your weight, your blood sugar, your cholesterol, and more. If you don’t pay attention to the types of foods you’re putting into your body, you are setting yourself up for potentially deadly consequences.
A plant-based diet can reduce blood pressure and lower the risk for heart disease. High blood pressure, or hypertension, wreaks havoc on the heart and kidneys. It’s also linked to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. … Plant products are also generally low in fat and sodium and are free of cholesterol.
A healthy, well-balanced plant-based diet can literally save your life. Granted, we are all going to die someday, but doesn’t it make sense to create the healthiest, most vibrant life we can?
It all goes back to making the decision to live the healthiest life possible. Every day, you have the power to live beyond your wildest expectations. You can throw up your hands and pretend you have no say about your health. Or you can use your hands to select the right foods to live a vibrant, joyful, energy filled life. The decision, and choice, is up to you.