Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Have You Checked Your Blood Pressure Lately?

“If you don't know your blood pressure, it's like not knowing the value of your company”
Mehmet Oz

Everyone has and needs blood pressure. However, high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a disease. Even though it typically has no symptoms, HBP can have deadly health consequences if not treated. High blood pressure often does its damage without creating symptoms, but when blood pressure numbers rise above 180 for the systolic pressure or 110 for the diastolic pressure, you need emergency treatment. Although it is possible that low blood pressure can alert you to a problem, it is usually only dangerous if it causes notable signs and symptoms.
Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio for example 120/80.
The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).
The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).
This chart reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association.

Blood Pressure
mm Hg (upper #)

mm Hg (lower #)
Less than 120
Less than 80
120 - 139
80 – 89
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1

140 – 159


90 - 99
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2

160 or higher


100 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed)

Higher than 180


Higher than 110

If, while monitoring your blood pressure, you get a systolic reading of 180 mm Hg or higher OR a diastolic reading of 110 mm HG or higher, wait a couple of minutes and take it again.If the reading is still at or above that level, you should seek immediate emergency medical treatment for a hypertensive crisis. If you can't access the emergency medical services (EMS), have someone drive you to the hospital right away.
Hypertensive Emergency
A hypertensive emergency exists when blood pressure reaches levels that are damaging organs. Hypertensive emergencies generally occur at blood pressure levels exceeding 180 systolic OR 120 diastolic, but can occur at even lower levels in patients whose blood pressure had not been previously high.
The consequences of uncontrolled blood pressure in this range can be severe and include
·         Stroke
·         Heart Attack
·         Angina (unstable chest pain)
·         Loss of consciousness
·         Memory loss
·         Damage to the eyes and kidneys
·         Loss of kidney function
·         Aortic dissection (bleeding into and along the wall of the aorta, the major artery)
·         Pulmonary edema (fluid backup in the lungs)
·         Eclampsia ( life-threatening complication of pregnancy)

8 Foods that lower blood pressure
Plant-based diets and diets high in fruits and vegetables are strongly associated with lower blood pressure -- so much so that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) officially recommends adopting healthy eating practices as one of the primary actions to take to prevent or lower high blood pressure and hypertension.

1. Celery
Mark Houston, a physician and medical director of the Hypertension Institute of Nashville at Saint Thomas Hospital, recommends celery to patients as a natural remedy for lowering blood pressure. This recommendation isn't anything new: Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been prescribing celery or celery root to patients with high blood pressure for more than a century.
How it works: Celery contains phytochemicals known as phthalides, which relax the muscle tissue in the artery walls, enabling increased blood flow and, in turn, lowering blood pressure.
How much: According to Houston, eating four stalks of celery per day may be helpful in lowering blood pressure. For a boost of protein, add a tablespoon of unsalted peanut butter or almond butter; both are high in monounsaturated fat (the heart-healthy kind).

2. Cold-water fish
Cold-water fish are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, which are famous for their cardiovascular benefits. In particular, omega-3s lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Wild (not farmed) salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod, trout, halibut, herring, and sardines are among the best sources.
How it works: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids: The human body can't make them, so we need to get them from the food we eat. Omega-3s seem to positively influence several cardiac risk factors, such as blood triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood), heart rate, and atherosclerosis (plaque in artery walls).
How much: According to the joint guidelines from the FDA and the EPA, two six-ounce servings per week of most cold-water fish is a safe amount for most people, including pregnant women and nursing mothers, to reap the health benefits with minimal risk from exposure to toxins. If you bruise easily, have a bleeding disorder, or take blood-thinning medication, talk to your doctor about potential complications.

3. Broccoli
Nutritionally speaking, broccoli is a red-carpet regular, connecting the worlds of scientific research and natural health. This cruciferous veggie is hailed as a super-food because of its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And when it comes to lowering blood pressure, broccoli sells itself.
How it works: Broccoli is a potent package of fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C, all nutrients that may help lower blood pressure. One cup of steamed broccoli provides more than 200 percent of the vitamin C you need each day. Researchers aren't sure how, exactly, vitamin C helps. Theories range from the vitamin promoting the excretion of lead to calming the sympathetic nervous system to protecting nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow. But the results are the same: Antioxidant vitamin C helps bring down blood pressure.
How much: For the myriad health benefits you can reap from regular consumption of broccoli, most people would do well to eat at least one serving a day. For variety, eat it raw with salsa or hummus, or steamed with olive oil and lemon. If you have a juicer, run the stalks and leaves through for a spicy green sipper.

4. Dandelion
For more than a century, dandelion has been used as a cure-all for countless conditions and ailments in cultures around the world, particularly in its native Asia and Europe. The entire plant is edible, from leaves to roots. And in addition to lowering blood pressure, it's good for the liver, eyes, and skin.
How it works: A natural diuretic, dandelion helps reduce blood pressure by releasing excess sodium without the loss of potassium (as occurs with some over-the-counter diuretics). This is doubly important because excess sodium raises blood pressure by constricting blood vessels, while potassium helps regulate it. Dandelion is also loaded with magnesium, a mineral that is critical to proper function of the heart and muscles.
How much: Eat fresh dandelion greens in a salad, sauté dandelion roots in a stir-fry, or drink dried dandelion in a tea. Incorporate dandelion into your diet as often as you can; it's really good for you, and in any form you find it (except on your lawn), chances are that it's organic -- grown without harmful pesticides or herbicides.

5. Whole-grain oats
In a 12-week study comparing whole-grain oat-based cereals to refined wheat-based cereals, researchers reported that 73 percent of hypertensive participants in the oats group were able to cut out their antihypertensive medications, or reduce them by half. The remaining participants also experienced significantly reduced blood pressure.
How they work: The fiber and magnesium found in oats both have beneficial effects on blood pressure. In addition, oats help slow atherosclerosis, the plaque buildup that occurs in blood vessels.
How much: Aim for one serving (about three-fourths of a cup) of whole-grain oats per day, or at least six servings per week. For a boost of blood-pressure-lowering calcium and potassium, eat whole-grain oatmeal topped with skim milk (or unsweetened soy milk) and banana, or sprinkle oat bran on cereal and salads. Loose oats also make an excellent thickener for soups and stews.

6. Black beans
Legumes boast a high fiber-to-protein ratio that you won't find in any other type of food. This combination helps maintain lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, both of which help keep artery walls healthy, which promotes lower blood pressure.
How they work: Black beans are a nutrient-dense source of fiber and magnesium, which are essential for healthy blood pressure levels. What puts them at a distinct advantage over other foods, though, is the folate you'll find in these legumes. Folate, also known as folic acid in its synthetic form, is a B-complex vitamin that appears to lower blood pressure (especially systolic blood pressure) by relaxing blood vessels and improving blood flow.
How much: 400 micrograms of folate is the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Aim for that as a minimum; 800 micrograms daily has shown significant benefit in reducing blood pressure in multiple large-scale studies. One cup of cooked black beans provides 256 micrograms of folate. Many cereals are also fortified with folic acid.

7. Berries
Calorie for calorie, berries are among the most nutritional foods on the planet when it comes to fiber and antioxidant capacity. All berries are great for you, but blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are tops for their ability to help lower blood pressure, thanks to high doses of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and other plant compounds.
How they work: All three berries are high in fiber, but raspberries rank highest: Just one cup delivers more than 33 percent of the daily value, for a mere 60 calories. A cup of strawberries offers 136 percent of the daily value for vitamin C. And blueberries contain a compound called pterostilbene that helps prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. Last but hardly least, berries are anti-inflammatory.
How much: Eat at least one serving (one cup) of berries per day, fresh or frozen.

8. Low-fat dairy
In a Dutch study of hypertension in adults 55 and older, researchers found that low-fat dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt may help prevent hypertension.
How it works: The modest amount of fat in low-fat dairy is important because it increases the bioavailability of calcium, making it easier for the body to absorb. In addition, milk and dairy products offer blood-pressure-lowering magnesium and potassium.
How much: In a 2006 study from Harvard Medical School, researchers found that people who ate more than three servings per day of low-fat dairy showed a systolic blood pressure reading of 2.6 points less than those who ate less than half a serving per day. So aim to include skim milk, cheese, and yogurt into your three daily meals, or in between.



  1. Lot of great information Sara. Like how you broke things down by the foods that can help lower BP.

    1. Thanks Mark - being on blood pressure meds myself, I found the foods rather interesting xxx

  2. This is an important topic, Sara. So many people have BP problems for so long before they even know it. At my old job, we had a "health station", where we could check several key numbers, including this one. I'm lucky that mine has always been on the low side of normal, even with my weight (and even with the extreme stress of that old job!). But I know I can't count on it to stay that way forever, which is one reason I want to drop some pounds, to help keep it where it needs to be.

    1. Scary subject and as you say, people don't even realise their blood pressure is high - it is good to have it regularly checked - thanks for the reminder. Good luck on the weight loss xxx

  3. Hi Sara
    I suffer with high blood pressure but through medication and a good diet I have it under control.
    It is important to get yourself checked on a regular basis and of course like you have written about eat foods that will help with this disease.
    Have a great day

    1. I found the food part rather interesting as I also have high blood pressure. Take my meds religiously every day. Thanks for commenting Pauline xxx

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