Doctors generally use the systolic blood pressure reading to determine if a patient has high blood pressure. Patients with a systolic blood pressure around 140 may have high blood pressure, while pressures around 120 are considered normal with lower risks for heart disease and kidney problems.
However, a recent study conducted at the National Institutes of Health now suggests that it may be beneficial to treat patients in the prehypertension gray area of 120 to 140 mmHg, in order to prevent future hypertension.
The average American consumes about 3,400 mg of salt per day, as reported by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). However, the standard salt intake for a healthy diet is less than 2,300 mg per day. This means that the average American is over the daily salt guideline by 1,100 mg. Salt is one of the major players for increased blood pressures.
In the human body, salt (sodium) and water move together. Sodium and water are partners in crime. When sodium moves, water moves and vice versa.
Kidneys utilize receptors and channels to create the perfect balance to make concentrated urine. Excessive sodium intake disrupts this balance by dragging more sodium into the arteries. More sodium into the arteries means more water as well, resulting in a rise in blood volume, correlating to high blood pressure.
High blood Pressure damages the walls of arteries. Damage to artery walls can cause aneurysms (excessive enlargement of an artery) to develop. Aneurysms can burst and bleed into surrounding the surrounding tissue. The open wall can then attract cholesterol, fat, and calcium, allowing for plaque formation, which decreases blood flow and causing the heart to work harder and beat more forcefully, leading to stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease.
Some recommendations given to those looking to reduce their blood pressure include:
Leave the saltshaker off the table. If you don't see it, you're more unlikely to use it.
Reduce processed food intake. Processed foods tend to be high in salt content.
Use more herbs when cooking. Fresh and dried herbs, with other spices provide additional flavor without the need for added salt.
Learn to look at food labels. Getting into the habit of checking food labels frequently while increase awareness of sodium content.
When eating at restaurants, ask for your food to be cooked without salt or MSG (monosodium glutamate). Another option is to request sauces and dressings (high in salt) to the side.
Avoid excessive alcohol intake. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage and kidney complications.
Exercise regularly. Regular exercise strengthens the hearts ability to pump blood efficiently throughout the body.
Quit smoking. Over time, smoking weakens the walls of arteries.
In order to reduce symptoms of high blood pressure, doctors recommend checking blood pressure regularly. It is essential to use correct medical devices and supplies while managing normal blood pressure.
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