Monday, May 03, 2010

May Is High Blood Pressure Education Month

I feel a duty.

High blood pressure (BP) hits the very small vessels and capillaries first:
  • It can damage the small vessels in the eye (retina) leading to blurred vision. If retinal blood vessels leak and bleed it can cause vision loss.
  • It can damage the small vessels in the kidney leading to kidney disease.
  • It can damage the small vessels in the brain, causing them to bleed, leading to a bleeding (hemorrhagic) stroke.
  • It can damage the arteries themselves leading to streaks of buildup in the vessels from scar tissue. That buildup can either clog the artery locally, causing a stroke or heart attack, or a bit may break off (an embolus) and clog an artery further away.
The CDC says 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure (hypertension). You can't feel chronic high BP.

How To Lower Your Blood Pressure

Things that work:
  • Lose weight
  • Manage stress
  • Don't smoke
  • Cut back on alcohol
  • Move your body more
Things that may work:
  • Increase dietary potassium (fruits and vegetables)
  • Reduce dietary sodium (processed foods)
  • Decrease caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks)
  • Review meds (steroids, NSAIDS like Advil, decongestants, ginseng, yerba mate and other stimulants like ephedra all increase BP)
  • Manage diabetes (insulin resistance and high insulin can cause kidneys to retain sodium, likewise high dietary sodium may exacerbate insulin resistance)
  • Manage kidney disease
Have you found anything else to be helpful?
Chart from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Hypertension


locoyocal said...

weight / calorie restriction is the only thing that has worked for me.

i was 6'2 200lbs at 127 systolic. At 172lbs 6 months later, i'm at 117 systolic. I probably work out a little less now mainly just for maintenance.

point being, exercise is pretty much was useless till I cut out the juices / chips / flour products out of my pantry. I indulge in all the veggies and berries i want.

while I am still physically active than most people I know, I think I over-rated the exercise for healthy, and not enough on elimination of empty calories. I don't think any amount of exercise can make up for a poor diet.

Bix said...

You know, it's not the first time I've heard that.

Thank you for my new banner :)

Dr. Mel said...

I was looking into the issue of sodium chloride and high bp just recently and discovered a real groundswell of opinion that salt intake is not (at least not often) the cause of high bp. And this wasn't just from crank websites or sites selling "alternative" cures. The idea seemed to be that potassium/sodium balance was more important than sodium intake, and some sites also talked about natural salt (better supposedly) vs iodized salt (worse, ditto).

Yet on my hub's last yearly checkup, he was told his potassium was high and that he ought to moderate his intake of K. K apparently has to do w/ heart function (??). I'm sure you have some insights on this--I'm confused! Sometimes I feel like we have too much info!

Bix said...

His potassium is high? I trust his kidney function is OK?

Dr. Mel said...

Yes, that's true--his kidney enzymes were fine; there were no indications of other problems. And the K was not strikingly high, just a bit, though the doc did mention it. Said to avoid foods really high in K, but almost all fruits & veg have pretty significant amounts.