Hypertension – 10 Things You Might Not Know!

Doctor checking blood pressure with sphygmomanometer gauge in focus.
Doctor checking blood pressure with sphygmomanometer gauge in focus.

Hypertension affects about 70 million American adults according to the Center for Disease Control.  It is often referred to as the silent killer because often people aren’t aware that they have hypertension.  It is important to have your blood pressure checked by your doctor every year since it is a silent killer.  While some risk factors are easy to modify, others are not.  For example, taking birth control, limiting salt and alcohol are risk factors that can be modified, but having family history is something you are stuck with. Blood pressure is considered high if it reads140/90 or higher consistently.

The good news is hypertension is easily treatable with medication offering high efficacy. Though many achieve their goal blood pressure with the use of medication, others opt for a holistic approach and lifestyle modifications.  Following are 10 things you may not know about hypertension.

  • A sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for hypertension.  Stay active.  Brisk walking can help decrease elevated blood pressure.  If you are diagnosed with hypertension don’t attempt strenuous workouts without building up to them. Moderate intensity exercise of 30 minutes or longer for at least 5 days per week is recommended.
  • Hypertension left untreated can lead to permanent damage to your organs.  Don’t procrastinate seeking treatment if your doctor diagnoses you with hypertension.
  • Don’t drink coffee or smoke cigarettes for 30 minutes prior to having your blood pressure checked.  It can alter the results.
  • According to recent studies, taking 300 mg per day of magnesium for just one month was enough to elevate blood magnesium levels and reduce blood pressure.  Magnesium supplements can be beneficial in addition to foods high in magnesium such as nuts, whole oats, dark leafy green vegetables, legumes and seeds.
  • Classical music can help decrease blood pressure while rap, pop, jazz and rock can elevate your blood pressure.
  • Checking your blood pressure at home is a good way to keep close tabs on your numbers.  Make sure you have your home blood pressure monitor validated by a physician prior to use to ensure accuracy.
  • Your blood pressure may not be as bad as you think.  Many times the act of going to the doctor can raise your blood pressure.  This is called the white coat syndrome and it references a patient’s blood pressure increasing due to presence of the doctor.
  • Salt is extremely bad for those with high blood pressure.  Processed foods, fast foods and canned foods contain high levels of sodium.  Read the labels.   A turkey sandwich from Subway has a whopping sodium content between 800 and 1000 mg.
  • If you are pregnant, be sure to monitor your blood pressure closely.  Preeclampsia can occur if hypertension is chronic during pregnancy.  Preeclampsia can lead to serious complications for mother and baby.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids can lower blood pressure and cholesterol.  A large part of the population is lacking Omega-3s, which can be found in eggs, seafood, flax seeds and in many other healthy foods.