In my previous blogs I looked at elevated HDL and triglyceride as risk factors for heart disease. Both of these can be elevated due to eating behavior and weight, but family history can also be a detriment. The next risk factor I want to focus on is high blood pressure.
A high blood pressure is defined as 140/90 or higher. It is a common condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, referred to as DASH, encourages you to reduce the sodium in your diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight if your body mass index is above 25, moderate alcohol consumption which is defined as no more than 1 glass per day for women and 2 glasses per day for men, limit saturated fats, add more fiber in your diet, manage stress, avoid smoking, and exercise regularly will also lower your blood pressure and can improve your overall health. With exercise, take it slow at first with just 10 to 15 minutes a day and gradually increase the time and intensity of your activity. Choose something you enjoy and can stick with, such as walking, swimming, or bike riding, and make it a daily habit.
In my next few blogs I will look at each of these life style changes in more detail. What do you see may be affecting your blood pressure?
Signature by Joanne Slyter, registered dietitian with nutrition consulting and coaching practice located in Westminster CO