Saturday, May 26, 2012

Reducing and managing high blood pressure without medication

In the workplace, it is not unusual to hear about a colleague or team mate who was diagnosed with hypertension and were taking hypertension pills to maintain their high blood pressure. Many research findings showed that the health and conditions of the workforce were affected by different forces at work environment. Like the quota and sales pressures, long work hours, uncertainties of employment, economic challenges, and lay-off, conflict with co-workers and or reporting supervisor / manager and responsibilities at home and or family.

According to the Mayo Clinic Staff,  “You don't always need prescription medications to lower your blood pressure. By making some lifestyle changes, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.”

If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure (a systolic pressure - the top number - of 140 or above) or (a diastolic pressure  - the bottom number - of 90 or above), you might consider taking steps to bring your numbers down.

It is a matter of Lifestyle change that will play an important role in treating your high blood pressure without medication. When you successfully control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you may avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication. Challenge yourself to execute healthy ways in managing your high blood pressure. Do not be dependent on medications unless necessary.

The following are insightful suggestions that will help lower your blood pressure and naturally maintaining it.

Monitoring your blood pressure at home and have a caring physician
Learning to self-monitor your blood pressure with an upper arm monitor can help motivate you.  If you have high blood pressure, you may need to monitor your blood pressure at home.  There are many small health kits that you can buy that will help you monitor your blood pressure at home.

Establishing a caring program and patient relationship with your personal physician would be ideal.
Have a personal care physician. 
o   Find a doctor who will evaluate your whole being as a healthy person. Someone who is open to create a caring relationship with you. Your personal care physician will provide you guidance on healthy diets, exercises, advantages of living healthy, feedbacks on  avoidance of risky unhealthy practices and lifestyle living  and one who will not  recommend immediate use of prescription, drugs and regimen of medication.
o   Scheduling a program with your personal care physician is advantageous.

Regular visits to your doctor may become a part of your normal routine. These visits will help you monitor and learn about your progress in maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
Visit your doctor regularly. 
o   If your blood pressure is under control, you might need to visit your personal physician only every six to 12 months, depending on other conditions you might have.
o   If your blood pressure isn't well controlled, or if you have other medical problems, you might need to visit your doctor more often or every month to review your treatment and make adjustments as necessary.

Dr. Oz’ suggests monitoring your blood pressure at home can give you better insight about your health. And you will manage your own technique to treat this condition.  Watch what he says.

Other ways in managing your high blood pressure naturally:
1. Reduce your stress levels
  • Stress or anxiety can temporarily increase blood pressure. Consider taking time to think about what are causing your stresses. The following may be some factors like work, family, finances or some illness. Once you have identified the causes, consider how you can eliminate or reduce stress.
  • Dr. Oz’ suggested natural techniques in reducing high blood pressure – see Treatments for high blood pressure.
  • Reducing stress is a matter of identifying mechanisms or activities that are interesting to you. Make sure that the particular activity will create relaxation to your consciousness and self. There are many ways of reducing stress.
  • If you can't eliminate all of your stressors, you can at least cope with them in a healthier way. For example, take breaks for deep-breathing exercises. Consider some meditation, Yoga or a massage. If self-help doesn't work, seek out the help of an experienced professional who can help you in reducing your stress.
 2. Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity of at least 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week - can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). When doing your regular activity you will see a difference. If you haven't been active, increasing your exercise level can lower your blood pressure within few weeks.

If you have prehypertension (systolic pressure between 120 and 139 or diastolic pressure between 80 and 89), exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.

Oftentimes, your personal physician can help you determine applicable exercises along with restrictions. Even moderate activity for 10 minutes at a time, such as walking and light strength training, can help.

Avoid being a "weekend warrior." Do not try to squeeze all your exercise on the weekends to make up for week days inactivity. It would be healthier to exercise on a regular basis, conduct short intervals of exercises during the week.

3. Lose excess weight and watch your waistline
Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Losing just 10 pounds can help reduce your blood pressure. In general, the more weight you lose, the lower your blood pressure. If you are taking medication, losing weight also makes any blood pressure medications you're taking more effective.

Besides losing few pounds, you should also keep an eye on your waistline. The following information about weight will give you general perspectives:
- Men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters, or cm).
- Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (88 cm).
- Asian men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 36 inches (90 cm).
- Asian women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 32 inches (80 cm).

4. Eat healthy and balanced diet
Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and controlling on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg. Try an eating plan that is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

Changing your eating habits is challenging, but with the following tips, you can adopt a healthy diet:
a. Keep a food diary. 
o   Monitor what you eat, how much, when and why. By writing down what you eat, even for just a week, can shed surprising light on your true eating habits.
o   Dr. Oz’ recommended foods for High Blood Pressure
1.      Soy Beans For High Blood Pressure – Eat 2-3 cups of soybeans a week.
2.      Edamame relaxes the blood vessels plus they are high in potassium that balances out the salt and reduces blood pressure.
3.      Collard Greens For High Blood Pressure – Collard greens have lots of calcium and lots of fiber to help lower your blood pressure, they have compounds that help reverse and prevent damage to your blood vessels. Two to three servings a week which is a fist full for high blood pressure.
4.      Cocoa Powder For HIgh Blood Pressure – Dr. Oz says 2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder 1-2 times per week.
b. Consider boosting potassium. 
o   Potassium can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The best sources of potassium are fruits and vegetables, rather than supplements. You can discuss also with your personal physician about the potassium level that's best for you (where applicable).
c. Be a smart shopper. 
o   Do not buy junk food. Read food labels when you pick up your groceries, and stick to your healthy-eating plan. When you're dining out, be mindful of the type of food you eat. It is the best technique to make a shopping list before heading to the supermarket to avoid picking up junk food.
d. Cut yourself some slack. Although the DASH diet is a lifelong eating guide, it doesn't mean you have to cut out all of the foods you love. It's OK to treat yourself occasionally to foods you wouldn't find on a DASH diet menu, like a candy bar or mashed potatoes with gravy.

5. Reduce sodium in your diet
Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg. The recommendations for reducing sodium are:
- Limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less.
- A lower sodium level -1,500 mg a day or less is appropriate for people 51 years of age or older, and individuals of any age who are African-American or who have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

To decrease sodium in your diet, consider the following tips:
Track how much salt is in your diet. 
o   Keep a food diary to estimate how much sodium is in what you eat and drink each day.
Read food labels. 
o   Choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy.
Eat fewer processed foods. 
o   Potato chips, frozen dinners, bacon and processed lunch meats.
Don't add salt. 
o   Just 1 level teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices, rather than salt, to add more flavor to your foods.
Ease into it. 
o   If you feel that you cannot drastically reduce the sodium in your diet, take a slow approach in reducing it. Your palate will adjust over time.

6. Control on caffeine
Regardless of your sensitivity to effects of caffeine, doctors recommend you drink no more than 200 milligrams a day or about two cups of coffee.

To see if caffeine raises your blood pressure, check your pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage you regularly drink. If your blood pressure increases by five to 10 points, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine.

7. Get support from family and friends
Supportive family and friends can help improve your health. They may encourage you to take care of yourself, drive you to the doctor's office or embark on an exercise program with you to keep your blood pressure low.
  • Talk to your family and friends about the dangers of high blood pressure.
If you are alone and don’t have immediate family and friend support, consider joining a support group. This may create an avenue to put you in touch with people who can give you an emotional or morale boost. The people you will meet can offer you practical tips in coping up with your health and condition.

8. Limit alcohol intake
Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. Drinking moderately, it can potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm Hg. But that protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol - generally more than one drink a day for women and more than two a day for men. If you don't normally drink alcohol, you shouldn't start drinking as a way to lower your blood pressure. There's more potential harm than benefit to drinking alcohol.

If you drink more than moderate amounts, alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points. It can also reduce the effectiveness of high blood pressure medications.

Monitor your drinking patterns. 
o   Along with your food diary, keep an alcohol diary to track your true drinking patterns. One drink equals 12 ounces (355 milliliters, or mL) of beer, 5 ounces of wine (148 mL) or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor (45 mL). If you're drinking more than the suggested amounts, cut back.
Consider tapering off. 
o   Slowly reducing your drinking pattern will help you. If you're a heavy drinker, suddenly eliminating all alcohol can actually trigger severe high blood pressure for several days. It would be best to slowly eliminating it for better health in the long term.

What this means to you?
High Blood Pressure is deadly when it is not monitored and managed properly.  Many individuals have this challenge in their life and most are being dependent to medications. There are many ways to help yourself in maintaining a healthy blood pressure.

Being healthy is always the best way to enjoy life and its promise. However, the most important skill in order to enjoy that promise is by demonstrating healthy practices in managing and controlling habits in our lifestyle. Eating regular fruits, vegetables, balanced diets, drink moderately, being conscious on the bad and unhealthy foods, avoid junk foods, avoid ready-frozen foods that were prepared with unhealthy ingredients, read labels of foods that you buy, take time to research sources of healthy foods like organic markets and supermarkets, keeping track of your blood pressure at home.

Learn to prepare your own food. Cooking is healthy and it will give you many advantages in managing your healthy intake of foods that are nutritious and useful for your body. Cooking is easy; it is an art of putting together different edible foods and products. Experiment with ingredients from many different cultures.  There are many foods from various ethnicity that can give you natural nutrients, vitamins and food supply to maintain your healthy body.

Having a healthy workforce, it will advance the organization with greater corporate health and it will always have a greater R.O.I. Lesser insurance claims for illness, doctor's visits and medications.  One way to influence the members of the workforce to eat healthy foods is by providing them a cafeteria that do not offer junk foods. There are many ways to incorporate health-driven communications, practices and habits that will encourage the workforce to become healthier and they will avoid to become one among the hypertension patients.

Being healthy is a beautiful asset of oneself.

The following Chart will show you the different stages of Blood Pressures from Stage 1 up to the most severe, based from an analytical study from Vaughn's Summaries.

Credits: Vaughn's Summaries

Please note that this chart was meant for informational use only. It is suggested that you need to seek medical advise or seek your personal physician's advise in order to make the right judgement for your current and specific health conditions.

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  1. Americans tend to leave out healthy fruits and vegetables from their diets and eat too many fast foods. A fitness person at an exercise salon once told me that exercise cures a host of problems. These are very good tips for contolling high blood pressure.

  2. Gail, thank you for your inputs. It is always appreciated. Agreed, that many of us take for granted the nutrients of fruits and vegetables particularly those organic ones. If only everyone will take the chance to influence every child in the family, friends and acquaintances to eat fruits daily. Then we have a better outlook as a society. Healthy people produces better outlooks in life.

  3. Being healthy is always precious as it will make you become engage to any endeavor that you would like to enjoy ~