To make matters worse, even dangerously high blood pressure can have no symptoms. I can attest to that; one of my closest friends discovered at a regular check–up that her blood pressure was 210/130! She felt fine.
Hypertension is generally defined as blood pressure that is 140/90 or higher. Uncontrolled, it can lead to heart attacks, stroke, kidney diseases, vision problems and even dementia.
About 7% of Americans ages 18 to 39 have hypertension. That incidence climbs to 32% among people aged 40 to 59, and 65% for Americans 60 and over. There are a number of factors that contribute to that rise, including genetics and the tendency of arteries to stiffen with age.
I just finished reading an article published by AARP in a June 2016 publication about hypertension. Here are some of the points they outlined that stood out to me:
Hypertension is not inevitable. Your habits and decisions play a bigger role in whether or not you will develop hypertension than you may have been led to believe.
The “top” number, the systolic pressure is the one to watch. It measures the peak force your arteries and vital organs experience at the moment the heart beats. When that pressure gets too high, damage to the kidneys, eyes, brain and lining of the blood vessels can result.
Healthy habits can make the difference between taking medications or not. Smart choices, like reducing common table salt in your diet, eating more fruits and vegetables, losing weight, and exercising can shave anywhere between four and 11 points off your blood pressure.
Squeezing a hand-gripper six or seven times for two minutes each rep, three times a week can reduce blood pressure by about 10%. Seems to me like a small investment of money, time and effort to support my life.
I like this one. Slowing your breath down to six breaths in 30 seconds temporarily brings systolic blood pressure down by three points. This is a great argument for practicing intentional deep breathing on a regular basis – something we can practice ourselves and teach our clients.