Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Healthy Heart: Blood Pressure

Blood pressure. We all know the general numbers... or at least I thought we did. Recently, I have been in contact with young males (20s-30s) who have had blood pressures in the 160's/80's. Even one of my family members told me that his blood pressure has been normal... 170's! In nursing school, we learned that hypertension (high blood pressure) is known as the silent killer. Young people allow their blood pressure to be higher than normal (making their hearts work harder) for most of their youth/early adulthood. Unfortunately, that catches up with us when we get older. If we get injured, forget exercise. If we get busy, we stock our freezers with frozen meals (SODIUM!).

A normal blood pressure needs to be 120/80 or less. Individuals with 120-139/80-89 are now considered PREHYPERTENSIVE. Unfortunately, most people do not start worrying about blood pressure until they have symptoms (headache, fatigue, dizziness, palpitations...) until their blood pressure is REALLY high.

Most of the time, high blood pressure is caused by our diet, weight, stress, and insulin sensitivity (diabetes...). However, there are risk factors that create a higher risk. Family history, age (over 55 if you are a woman, younger than 55 if you are a male) , race (African American), and gender (male) all play a part. Of course, please see your primary care physician if you have concerns about your blood pressure. Here are some things that you can do to help:

- Cut sodium from your diet. Do not add it to your food. Try to eat fresh foods... not prepackaged meals. NO SODA. Watch your soups.
- Add fruits and vegetables.
- Cardiovascular activity... power walk. Go play Frisbee. Ride your bike. Get your heart BEAT'N!!!
(Even this healthy soup has 400mg of soup... you should aim for <2300mg)

Why cut salt??? Here is the tricky part. Salt causes your body to RETAIN WATER... think of your veins as a hose. If you put your thumb over the top, water squirts out faster and HARDER... that is your blood pressure... your thumb is like your heart. Think of that blood putting PRESSURE on your heart. Furthermore, increased volume in your body (which happens when you retain water) actually hinders your kidneys from releasing salt in your urine... SO YOU GET SALT ON BOTH ENDS.
(lovely drawing, right?)

OOOOH how the body is so fascinating. I hope this helps !!!! Have a good evening.

Medical Surgical Nursing (2004). Lewis S., Heitkemper M., Dirksen S. Mosby, Inc.


  1. ironic. I was just about to email Eric a link to this post, and then I noticed he had already written a comment! Kuddos to you and Facebook. :-)