Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension affects 50 million Americans, 30 percent of whom are not aware of their own diagnosis. Abnormally high blood pressure is marked by BP levels above 140/90, and is estimated to be responsible for 62 percent of stroke and 49 percent of coronary artery disease worldwide. For every blood pressure increase of 20/10 mmHg after 115/75, your risk of cardiovascular disease doubles. Hypertension is a serious condition that can be dangerous if left undiagnosed and untreated.
What can cause hypertension?
Hypertension can be caused by a number of common nutritional and lifestyle factors, including:
- Excessive sodium intake
- Poor intake of fruits, vegetables and potassium
- Sedentary lifestyle
It can also be caused by less common factors such as caffeine and stress. Taking care to lower or eliminate these factors is critical to treating and preventing hypertension. All of these factors have one thing in common, especially when they’re impacting your life in excess: they put undue pressure on your cardiovascular system.
What can we do about it?
Natural treatment for hypertension starts with prevention. Certain lifestyle and nutritional changes can decrease your blood pressure levels and your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Restricting the amount of salt in your diet can be a significant factor in mitigating hypertension. Limiting your salt intake can lower your blood pressure by 8 to 14 mmHg.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week. Even a brisk daily walk for just 30 minutes can lower your systolic blood pressure by 4 to 9 mmHg.
Obesity is one of the most common causes of hypertension. Preventing weight gain or losing weight can play a role in lowering your blood pressure. A loss of about 22 lbs, for instance, can lower systolic blood pressure by 5 to 20 mmHg.
Other ways to manage blood pressure
There are other, more discrete contributors to hypertension that you may not be aware of. For example, sleep apnea can play a role in increasing the pressure on your cardiovascular system. And high stress levels can have a similarly detrimental effect when you’re awake. It’s a good idea to record your daily blood pressure levels to learn how your blood pressure is affected by things like diet, exercise, stress and medication. You can check consumer reports to find a high-quality blood pressure machine to keep track on your own.
If you’re on medication for your hypertension, be wary of nutrient depletion. For example, HCTZ, a diuretic, can cause you to lose critical nutrients like B12, B6, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, B1, potassium, folic acid, and CoQ10.
Dr. Sherry Su is a specialist in hypertension. To learn more about high blood pressure and what you can do about it, schedule an appointment with Dr. Su today.