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High Blood Pressure Isn’t Just for Men
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High blood pressure. One out of three Americans have it — and 9 out of 10 of us eventually will. Indeed, past age 45, women not only catch up with men in terms of numbers diagnosed, but can surpass them.
Seems we all should know more about this silent killer.
Silent killer? That seems overly dramatic.
It’s true. Most times, high blood pressure has no symptoms — zip, zero, nada — and most of us don’t find out we have it until we get checked, meaning it can go undetected for quite a while. (Just one of the many good reasons you should get your routine health visits.)
A little primer.
Blood pressure is the force of blood that pushes against the walls of your arteries. If it’s high, it can lead to major health issues over time like stroke, heart disease, eye problems and kidney failure.
First, know those “something over something” numbers the practitioner tells you as she takes the blood pressure cuff off your arm? Here’s what they mean:
Systolic: It’s the top number that measures the force your heart exerts on your artery walls every time it beats.
Diastolic: That’s the bottom number. It measures the force your heart exerts on same artery walls in between its beats, when it rests.
What numbers do I want to hear?
Good question, because what used to be “normal” blood pressure is now considered “elevated.” That’s because guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology have been updated.
Normal: Numbers less than 120/80 mm (a.k.a. “millimeters of mercury”) are considered to be in the range of “normal.” Yay, you! You’re doing something right with your diet and exercise (or maybe you have really good genes).
Elevated: If your systolic readings are consistently 120 to 129 and your diastolic registers less than 80 mm Hg, your blood pressure is considered to be “elevated.”
What do I do?
For both normal and elevated blood pressure readings, experts’ advice is the same: maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Medication comes into consideration when your systolic readings are 130 to 139 and your diastolic ones are 80 to 89. In this zone, your blood pressure is considered Stage 1 hypertension. If your blood pressure readings register at or above 140/90, then you have Stage 3 hypertension and might need to take more than one medication for treatments.
I eat healthy, exercise regularly and still have high blood pressure? What gives?
Age, that’s what.
Hypertension is almost inevitable as we age: Once you hit 55, your chance of becoming hypertensive increases. (That’s because your arteries stiffen with age.)
And blame menopause: After menopause, women are more likely to have high blood pressure. A whopping 75 percent of post-menopausal women have it.
So don’t blame yourself. Family history can increase your chances of having high blood pressure. (So can family histrionics!)
Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash
Speaking of eating right…
The DASH diet (which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is lauded by medical professionals as an easy and effective way to treat or prevent hypertension. It emphasizes veggies, fruits and low-fat dairy, with moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts. Not a bad way to eat, high blood pressure or no. Read more about it here.
And while you can’t change your age or family history, there are things you can do to keep your blood pressure in check. Too much of these culprits have all been associated with high blood pressure:
Which means, you need to do more of these things:
Cut back on caffeine
Eat a healthy diet
Lose extra pounds
Eat fewer processed foods
Limit your alcohol consumption
For a Pause
We all breathe, duh. But do we breathe the right way? Slow, deep breathing can work wonders for your blood pressure. Yes, there is a right — and a wrong — way to breathe. Here are some tips from a respiratory therapist with the American Lung Association.
Can seeing white make your blood pressure spike? It might, if your healthcare professional wears a white coat. Known as white coat hypertension, it used to be thought that it’s caused by the stress that visiting the doctor creates. But not everyone agrees that it goes away once you leave the office. Instead, it could be a signal that you’re at risk for developing high blood pressure as a long-term condition.
If you do have hypertension, it’s a good idea to monitor it at home, rather than wait for your next doctor visit. Here are the best ways to use a home blood pressure monitor.
Did you know that when you get your blood pressure checked, it should be taken twice, with a brief break in between? Or that you shouldn’t talk during the measurement? Here are some other tips to ensure a correct reading at your doctor’s office.
Kindra is offering Pausers a chance to win its estrogen-free Menopause Essentials Bundle (valued at $89). The bundle includes a daily lotion to combat vaginal dryness and The Core supplement to help with symptoms like brain fog and mood swings. Enter to win here.
One more thing
Laughter is the best medicine — and a way to lower your blood pressure. From a dog imitating a siren to a mess-up at the altar, take a little time out for a giggle with these videos compiled by Mashable, starting with Liam Neeson’s trying his hand at improv comedy.
Let’s just say he has a certain set of skills.
Until next week, stay well. Stay healthy. Stay safe.
See you next time!
It's been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
— A Change is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke
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