Improving High Blood Pressure
By: Jessica Frazer
In a fast food society, many new epidemics are plaguing our nation. Among those are unprecedented rates of obesity, increased occurrences of diabetes and more incidences of heart disease. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is likewise linked to poor diet and lack of exercise. So how do we improve these conditions? One must go to the source in this case. It is proposed that all of these conditions can be avoided if not treated by healthy eating habits and physical fitness. High blood pressure is no exception to this rule. This essay will suggest healthy ways to manage this disease.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has estimated that, “about 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure” (Explore). Having high blood pressure can have no symptoms at all aside from an occasional headache which is usually why this disease is commonly not diagnosed until further damage has been caused. According to The National Heart, Lung and Blood Association, “You can have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. During this time the condition can damage your heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other parts of your body”(Explore).Scary right? This disease is also called the silent killer and rightfully so. As the American Heart Association has already suggested, knowing your blood pressure numbers is key to combatting this disease. If you are ever diagnosed with high blood pressure, proper treatment is essential to preventing and delaying the problems of untreated high blood pressure such as stroke, coronary heart disease and kidney failure amongst other health problems.
Healthy lifestyle habits are helpful in both the prevention and the treatment ofhigh blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute defines a healthy lifestyle as a lifestyle that includes the following five components: “eating a healthy diet or theDASH eating plan, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking and managing stress and learning to cope with stress” (Explore).Some of these components need no explanation. However, the DASH eating plan is worth defining. DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This plan puts emphasis on all the good for you foods that are high in fiber, protein and nutrients and low in both sodium and cholesterol. Focus is placed on fruits, veggies and whole grain as well as fat free or low fat dairy, fish, poultry and nuts. This plan limits the consumption of red meats, sweets and sugars. It is advised under this plan to consume no more than one teaspoon of sodium or salt daily. Also in need of limitation is the use of alcohol. Women with high blood pressure should consume no more than one drink per day and men should avoid more than two drinks per day.
Also worthy of definition are the components of routine physical activity and health weight management. It is also necessary to distinguish between being physically active and exercising as these two terms are used loosely and often confused. Physical activity is defined simply as, “the state of being active” (Free). This implies a range of movement but no real commitment. Physical exercise is defined as, “an activity that requires physical exertion especially when preformed to develop or maintain fitness” (Free). The latter is beneficial to healthy habits. Routine physical activity, or exercise, when coupled with healthy eating habits usually results in healthy weight management. These components should be seen as a lifestyle commitment and inseparable from each other.
In addition to healthy lifestyle habits, medications are also commonly prescribed to help treat high blood pressure. As with any medication, high blood pressure medications are not intended to replace healthy lifestyle choices and are prescribed only to assist in treatment. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Even if you have no family history and a healthy blood pressure, prevention is the key to avoiding this disease.
In conclusion, there is no substitute for living healthy. You only get one life and how you feel along the way can only be controlled by you. To avoid the health risks associated with high blood pressure, make sure you get your blood pressure checked frequently. Eat well and exercise to ensure a healthy body weight. Avoid excess alcohol consumption and always avoid tobacco smoke. If you find yourself diagnosed with high blood pressure, always take your doctor’s orders seriously and work harder to live a healthy lifestyle. Always live well and enjoy a healthy life.
“Explore High Blood Pressure”. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: People, Science, Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Web . 1 September 2011. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Franklin, Ben. “The Quotable Franklin”.The Electric Ben Franklin.Independence Hall Association.Web. 1 September 2011. http://www.ushistory.org
“The Free Dictionary”.Farlex, Inc. Web. 5 September 2011. https://thefreedictionary.com
“High Blood Pressure”.American Heart Association: Learn and Live. American Heart Association.Web . 1 September 2011. http://www.heart.org
“Medicines to Help You”.FDA-U.S. Food and Drug Administration.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Web. 5 September 2011. https://fda.gov