High blood pressure is the most common cardiovascular disease. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against your artery walls as it goes through your body. Think of it like this: like air in a tire or water in a hose, blood fills your arteries to a point. Just as too much air pressure can damage a tire, or too much water pushing through a garden hose can damage the hose, high blood pressure can hurt your arteries and lead to life-threatening conditions like heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure generally develops over many years, and it affects nearly everyone eventually. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected.Once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work towards lowering your numbers and regaining your heart health.
High blood pressure has many risk factors, including:
Age. The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age. Until about age 64, high blood pressure is more common in men. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after age 65.
Race. High blood pressure is particularly common among people of African heritage, often developing at an earlier age than it does in whites. Serious complications, such as stroke, heart attack and kidney failure, also are more common in people of African heritage.
Family history. High blood pressure tends to run in families.
Being overweight or obese. The more you weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.
Not being physically active. People who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction and the stronger the force on your arteries. Lack of physical activity also increases the risk of being overweight.
Using tobacco. Not only does smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raise your blood pressure temporarily, but the chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls. This can cause your arteries to narrow and increase your risk of heart disease. Secondhand smoke also can increase your heart disease risk.
Too much salt (sodium) in your diet. Too much sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.
Too little potassium in your diet. Potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells. If you don't get enough potassium in your diet or retain enough potassium, you may accumulate too much sodium in your blood.
Drinking too much alcohol. Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart. Having more than one drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men may affect your blood pressure. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
Stress. High levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. If you try to relax by eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol, you may only increase problems with high blood pressure.
Certain chronic conditions. Certain chronic conditions also may increase your risk of high blood pressure, such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.
• Avoid stressful situations and extra obligations; consider incorporating relaxation techniques and biofeedback • Avoid alcohol consumption and smoking • Participate in a regular balanced exercise program that includes wearing a pedometer for collecting steps and ensuring more movement. High intensity short bursts (20-60 seconds) of activity during the day is recommended to enhance growth hormone release. Also engage in resistance training that works all major muscle groups (work each group at least 2 times a week). • Avoid stimulants such as ephedra, guarana and caffeine • Check for cadmium toxicity and other heavy metal toxicity • Avoid or reduce chronic stress and stressful situations; relax more as stress can contribute to hypertension • Avoid becoming sleep-deprived or exhausted • Stay well-hydrated
Dietary Tips and Caveats:
• Eat 4 fresh celery sticks every day. Include fresh garlic and onions in diet. • If needed, add additional fiber to reach the recommended 50 grams of fiber per day. Gradually increase fiber intake up to this dose. Be sure to increase water intake as well. • Consume 9 servings of vegetables/fruits every day (6 vegetables and 4 fruits). Use dark berries such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, boysenberries and red grapes (1⁄2 cup of fruit = 1 serving). • Increase the amount of omega 3 fatty acids in diet (i.e., large cold water fish), green leafy vegetables, walnuts and pumpkin seeds; decrease saturated fat avoid trans fatty acids (hydrogenated margarine and vegetable oils) and increase monounsaturated fats (olive oil and olives) • Avoid artificial sweeteners, aspartame, Splenda® and saccharin (Equal®, NutraSweet®); use stevia, cinnamon and xylitol as sweeteners (1⁄2 teaspoon 2-3 times per day) • Drink adequate amounts of pure, filtered water every day. In addition, drink 2-3 cups of green tea (naturally decaffeinated) and/or hibiscus (sabdariffa) tea.
How Can Chiropractic Help Your Hypertension?
In the case of High Blood Pressure, most studies aim to show that proper alignment of the spine can improve blood pressure. A great study done in 2007 by the University of Chicago Hypertension Center looked at the way that your C1 vertebra/Atlas (the first spinal bone under your skull) being misaligned can affect your blood pressure. Vertebral subluxation were diagnosed in those also diagnosed with high blood pressure. The science behind the association is this: The vertebrae in the spine slip out of alignment (subluxate) putting pressure on the nerves and blood vessels, possibly causing blood pressure to increase.