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Do You Really Have High Blood Pressure?
Think you have high blood pressure? You may simply have white-coat hypertension. Find out more about this condition and the possible health dangers below. You may be surprised at what you can do to prevent high blood pressure!
Most people get nervous at the doctor’s office. A health evaluation can range from minorly stressful, if you know you haven’t been eating healthy or exercising regularly, to full on panic-inducing if your doctor states you have a serious, unexpected health complication. A visit to the doctor can bring on sweaty palms, a pounding heart, and a spike in blood pressure.
However, if your blood pressure is always high at the doctor’s office but never high at home, you could have white coat hypertension and mistakenly get diagnosed with chronic high blood pressure.
A 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that up to 20 percent of Americans with high blood pressure only have it at the doctor’s office. This is what is known as white coat hypertension, where the blood pressure spikes under the stress of examination, but in a normal environment, the person’s blood pressure is normal or even below average.
Due to these findings, the study authors now recommend that individuals who receive a high blood pressure diagnosis test their blood pressure at home for several days before prescribing blood pressure-lowering medication. An earlier study from 2015 published in Stroke journal found that while blood pressure-lowering medication is beneficial for blood pressure rates of 140/90 mm Hg or higher, individuals who took blood pressure medication between 120/80 mm Hg and 140/90 mm Hg actually had more heart problems and an increased stroke risk over individuals with blood pressure readings in the same range who did not take blood pressure medication. Even individuals with the highest blood pressure ratings still had an increased risk of stroke of about 33 percent.
Because of the recent spotlight on the dangers of blood pressure medication, it is extremely important not to medicate for high blood pressure if a real issue is not present. Taking blood pressure medication when it is not necessary will only add to any problems or even create problems in an otherwise healthy person.
Due to these findings, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends that blood pressure screening for adults now take place at home. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a federal advisory board, recommends screening for high blood pressure in adults aged 18 years or older.
The guidelines recommend taking ambulatory blood pressure monitoring through a device supplied by your doctor that measures blood pressure every 20 to 30 minutes for 48 hours. This will give an accurate reading on what your blood pressure rate is during your normal day-to-day activities.
High blood pressure medication is one of the most prescribed medications in the United States today, and it’s not without reason. There are serious risks to high blood pressure which can have serious and deadly health consequences. Your blood pressure does not stay the same throughout the day.
Exercise, stress, caffeine intake, and emotions can all influence your blood pressure. The US Centers for Disease Control estimates that the number of deaths related to high blood pressure have increased by 62 percent between 2000 and 2013, which is extremely worrying. The CDC estimates that about 70 million people in the United States suffer from high blood pressure. Another third of adults in the United States are estimated to have pre-hypertension, which is the blood pressure rating between 120/80 and 140/90.
High blood pressure is dangerous because the pressure of the blood forces too much pressure on the walls of the arteries, which damages and weakens them. High blood pressure increases a person’s risk for heart disease, strokes, and heart failure. High blood pressure can also cause problems in the kidneys and in the brain, such as by hampering memory and cognitive function.
High blood pressure is damaging, but taking blood pressure-lowering medication is also dangerous. It is difficult to determine if the risks of not treating high blood pressure or the risks of taking blood pressure medication are worse. The best way to lower high blood pressure is to do so through diet changes, regular exercise, and stress-reducing techniques. Use the following strategies to keep your blood pressure in the healthy range:
In a landmark review of numerous blood pressure studies, a review published in Open Heart in 2014 found that sugar intake was more closely associated with high blood pressure than salt. Sugar can cause your blood pressure to spike, causing damage and inflammation that can lead to a variety of health problems. If you eat sugar regularly and you have high blood pressure, try cutting back. The current recommendation for sugar intake is no more than nine teaspoons a day, which is about the equivalent of one soda.
Choose to eat no more than a single serving of a sugary dessert or drink each day and watch for hidden sugars in foods like bread, packaged meals, and restaurant items. You can easily consume more than nine teaspoons of sugar just by eating processed foods at each meal due to sugar added to these dishes.
It’s no secret that processed foods are disastrous for your health. But out of convenience, we still eat far too many of them. Anything with trans fats, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, refined grains, and a high sodium content is dangerous for blood pressure. However, eating the right kinds of fat and other ingredients can help reduce blood pressure.
It seems strange that exercise, which will temporarily raise blood pressure can also reduce it, but exercise can strengthen the blood vessels and prevent artery blocks that lead to high blood pressure. A study from 2014 published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology found that men who exercised regularly did not show signs of increasing blood pressure until the age of 55, but men who did not exercise regularly had blood pressure that started to increase at the age of 45.
Additionally, exercise also reduces stress, which will benefit your heart health and lower blood pressure. To reap the benefits of exercise for blood pressure, exercise at high intensity for at least 10 minutes three or more times a week.
It is virtually impossible to eliminate the cause of stress in the modern lifestyle, but you can take steps to counteract the effects when you are at home. Exercising regularly and eating well are huge advantages in fighting stress. Other simple steps include:
Getting enough sleep: Sleeping for eight to nine hours a night can help your body shake off the negative effects of stress.
De-stressing nightly: If you practice stress-relief daily, your body will let go of stress rather than allow it to accumulate. Try meditating, taking a hot bath, getting a massage, engaging in a fun activity, laughing with friends, or having a glass of red wine. Even watching a movie or television show or reading a book can help relieve stress as it allows the mind to focus on something other than the stress for a while.
Vitamin D is kind of a miracle nutrient. It benefits your entire body, including your blood pressure. Vitamin D helps prevent stiffness in blood vessels, which can contribute to high blood pressure. Vitamin D deficiencies are linked with stiffer blood vessels, making vitamin D intake absolutely essential to healthy blood pressure. Get outside and eat plenty of vitamin D-rich foods, like fatty fish and grass-fed dairy.
Omega 3 fats fight inflammation, which can help control cholesterol levels and prevent high blood pressure. Replace omega-6 fats with omega-3 fats when possible to benefit your heart and blood pressure rating. Balance Your Electrolytes Some evidence suggests that your electrolyte balance, particularly the ratio between potassium and sodium, is important for healthy blood pressure.
Most people get far too much sodium and not nearly enough potassium, which can contribute to high blood pressure. Eat unprocessed foods to provide a potassium boost and eat less processed salt to balance this area.
If you think you might have white coat hypertension, ask your doctor for a 48-hour blood pressure monitor to use at home. This will help determine if you really need medication or if you simply get nervous at the doctor. Blood pressure medications have serious health risks that can increase your risk of developing a stroke by 33 percent or more- which is more than the stroke risk of a person who has prehypertension below 140/90. And regardless of whether you have high blood pressure or not, take steps now to keep it low so that you do not suffer later in life.
Exercise, stress elimination, and a healthy diet will go a long way toward preventing hypertension at any age.
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