By Shawn Henry Dill, D.C., Doctor of Chiropractic
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, affects 73 million adults and two million teens and children. Some people call it the “silent killer” because there are no symptoms, and the only way to know if you’ve got it is to have your blood pressure measured on a regular basis by a nurse, physician or someone else that is trained in taking such a measurement.
Once you have that number you have the power over hypertension. Consider this: If your blood pressure is below 120/80, good for you! That is considered normal. If it is above 140/90, you have hypertension. If your measurement falls between those two numbers, you may be at risk of developing high blood pressure.
The good news is that you can control your blood pressure. If you have hypertension, it’s time to make some changes to drop that number. If your measurement indicates a normal blood pressure, then work hard to keep it where it is. Here are six things you can do to keep the silent killer at bay:
- Lose excess weight. High blood pressure is a condition that puts pressure on your body’s arteries, which forces them to work harder. Carrying around extra pounds is hard on your heart, which places extra stress on the arteries.
- Quit smoking.Smoking raises a person’s blood pressure temporarily, but smoking does not cause high blood pressure in and of itself. It does cause a narrowing of blood vessels from the chemicals in the cigarettes, which speeds up the process of atherosclerosis (the narrowing of blood vessels). People who smoke therefore are at an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol in moderation is okay—it may even be healthy for you. But ingesting more than a couple drinks a day can have an adverse affect on blood pressure. Though doctors aren’t completely sure how the two are related, they are very certain that excessive drinking does play a role in hypertension.
- Exercise regularly. Maintaining good heart health naturally requires physical activity, which keeps the heart muscle strong. Exercising is also an important component in losing weight, and losing weight, as noted above, is necessary to keep extra pressure off the heart.
- Minimize stress. The body’s response to stress is frequently characterized by an increase in hormones, which temporarily cause your blood pressure to spike. This causes your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow. Though there is no proof that stress itself causes long-term high blood pressure, it’s always a good idea to minimize stress so that your body doesn’t have to fight so hard every time it encounters something that puts it on high alert. Meditation, yoga and massage are three ways to help minimize stress. Using a Human Touch® massage chair or Perfect Chair® can also help keep your stress in check.
- Eat healthy foods. Certain foods cause build up in the arteries, which causes stress on the heart and increases blood pressure. To reduce hypertension, adopt a diet that is low in salt (sodium) and includes sparse amounts of saturated and trans-fats.
Throughout the month of February in honor of American Heart Month, we are discussing high blood pressure at The Specific Chiropractic Center, with our eight locations around the country. For more information on our upcoming hypertension workshops, please visit www.thespecific.com.