High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure

Geschreven door Nathan Albers
Geschatte leestijd: 5 minuten New research shows that a combination of two types of diets is more effective in treating high blood pressure than most dedicated medications. Here we delve into the causes of high blood pressure and how it can be prevented and treated through proper nutrition.
High blood pressure

High blood pressure

To supply your body with oxygen, energy, and nutrients, your heart pumps blood around. It pushes against the walls of the blood vessels. It’s a bit like when pressure builds up in a garden hose when you open and close the tap quickly. The force with which blood pushes against the vessels is the blood pressure. When ‘the tap is open’ and another wave of blood is pushed through the vessels, the so-called ‘systolic blood pressure’ (or ‘systolic blood pressure’) occurs. The moment between beats, when there is the least pressure on the vessels, is called the ‘diastolic blood pressure’ (or ‘diastolic blood pressure’). This pressure is measured in ‘millimeters of mercury pressure’ (mmHg), with both systolic and diastolic pressure determined. For example: “a blood pressure of 128/85 mmHg”. The following values can be used for a healthy, normal, or unhealthy blood pressure:
  • Low blood pressure: Lower than 90-11-/60-70
  • Normal blood pressure: less than 120/80
  • High blood pressure: Higher than 140/90
Opinions may vary on these values. Moreover, it is important that the risk is strongly related to other risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Although the official definition of high blood pressure is 140/90, a systolic blood pressure of over thirty can be a major risk factor for health problems in many cases. Although the diastolic pressure is still mentioned in the definition, often only the systolic pressure is measured. A high diastolic pressure can also be dangerous, but almost always comes with a high systolic pressure.

Measuring blood pressure

It is always advisable to measure blood pressure yourself in addition to any checks by the doctor. Both have pros and cons. For an accurate measurement, you need to consider several factors. In addition to the quality of the equipment, correct placement is important. Also think about things like a relaxed sitting position with supported back and the correct height of the arm. Factors such as drinking coffee just before a measurement can also influence it. Doctors have equipment that is more accurate in terms of measurement itself, and you can expect them to know how it is done. This will prevent many errors in the measurement. However, many people may show higher blood pressure due to tension when visiting a doctor. This is the well-known ‘white coat syndrome’. That is why home measurements are often recommended. The disadvantages of this are the limited reliability of cheaper blood pressure meters and possible mistakes you make in performing the measurement. When I did a measurement today for this article, I got an initial result of 156/67. That would be shocking were it not for the fact that I recently measured a completely different value twice (earlier on the low side). Moreover, such a high systolic pressure combined with such a low diastolic pressure is not very likely (at rest). If initial measurements are cause for concern, more extensive measurements can be performed, such as a 24-hour measurement. You get this for the whole day, with 3 measurements automatically taken during the day and 2 at night. Blood pressure can vary considerably during the day.

High blood pressure symptoms

The difficulty with high blood pressure is that the symptoms are often missed or attributed to other causes. Think for example of:
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Heavy anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
The last four can indicate a very high blood pressure where immediate action should be taken.

Causes of high blood pressure

Various factors can play a role in the development of high blood pressure, including:
  • Overweight
  • Too much salt in the diet
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Too much alcohol
  • Too much stress
  • Smoking
  • Genetic predisposition
Often, high blood pressure is a combination of these factors. For example, stress can make you smoke more or drink more alcohol, exercise less, and eat more unhealthy food.

Lowering blood pressure with diet

It is advisable to eat a healthy diet to lower blood pressure. Think of:
  • Many vegetables and fruit
  • Whole grains such as whole grain bread and pasta, brown rice, and whole grain flour products
  • Enough dairy, preferably low-fat (eg skimmed milk, low-fat yogurt)
  • Fish (especially fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring)
  • Legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas
  • Nuts
  • Drink enough water (about 1.5-2 liters per day)
It is advisable to limit or avoid:
  • Processed foods
  • Snacks and sweets
  • Fast food
  • Too much salt
  • Too much caffeine (from coffee, tea, cola)
  • Alcohol
A study published in the journal Hypertension suggests that combining the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, with a low-sodium diet could be an effective way to lower blood pressure without medication. Researchers found that this combination diet lowered blood pressure more than typical medications used to treat hypertension. The study involved over 400 adults with high blood pressure. They were randomly assigned to follow either the DASH diet alone, a low-sodium diet alone, a combination of both, or a control diet for 12 weeks. The combination diet group saw the greatest reduction in blood pressure compared to the other groups.

High blood pressure and obesity

Being overweight or obese is a significant risk factor for high blood pressure. Excess weight puts added pressure on the heart, causing it to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. Losing weight through a combination of healthy eating and regular exercise can help reduce blood pressure and improve overall health.

Medications to lower blood pressure

While lifestyle changes like diet and exercise are important for managing high blood pressure, some people may require medication to control their blood pressure effectively. There are several types of medications available, including:
  • Diuretics: These medications help the body get rid of excess sodium and water, reducing blood volume and lowering blood pressure.
  • ACE inhibitors: These drugs relax blood vessels by preventing the formation of angiotensin II, a hormone that narrows blood vessels.
  • Calcium channel blockers: These medications relax and widen blood vessels, making it easier for the heart to pump blood.
  • Beta-blockers: These drugs reduce the heart rate and the heart’s workload, lowering blood pressure.
  • ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers): These medications block the action of angiotensin II, leading to blood vessel relaxation and decreased blood pressure.
Your doctor will determine the most appropriate medication based on your individual health needs and any other medical conditions you may have.

High blood pressure and exercise

Regular physical activity is an essential part of managing high blood pressure. Exercise helps strengthen the heart, improve blood flow, and lower blood pressure. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, each week. Additionally, include strength training exercises at least two days a week to improve muscle strength and overall health.

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Personal Trainer? Check out the All-in-one training and nutrition software!

Completely new version with everything you need to make your personal training even more personal and automate your business.
Available to everyone from spring 2024, sign up for a special launch discount.

Sign up for a launch discount

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