7 Simple Steps To Stop The Silent Killer
Written by: Karen Azeez
Chances are, someone you know – maybe even you – is being stalked by a silent killer. It’s not zombies, vampires, or some other otherworldly monster. It’s not Ebola or diabetes, or any other disease that’s talked about often in the news. What I am referring to is….high blood pressure.
In addition to the fact that hypertension (or high BP) doesn’t get a lot of press, it has long been known as the “silent killer” because there are few noticeable symptoms. That’s why we should all be concerned. In fact, high BP affects more than 65 million—or 1 in 3—American adults. And, if you’re African American, studies show your risk is greater to develop as hypertension earlier and more often than other ethnic groups. If that weren’t bad enough, nearly 30 percent of American adults have pre-hypertension, a condition that also increases the chance of heart disease and stroke.
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls. High blood pressure (a reading of 140/90 or greater) is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard and the high force of the blood flow can harm arteries and organs, such as the heart, kidneys, brain and eyes. And it does so without any warning signs or symptoms. Once it occurs, it usually lasts a lifetime. If uncontrolled, it can lead to heart and kidney disease, stroke and blindness.
What can you do about it?
Today, medication is often prescribed to reduce high blood pressure. While it works and does save lives, medication isn’t always a perfect solution. For the millions who are uninsured, medication can be too costly. And many of you more than likely prefer a more natural approach, rather than dependency on pharmaceuticals.
Perhaps more importantly, medications don’t address the underlying cause of hypertension. In most cases, our lifestyle choices are the reason for elevated blood pressure. What we eat, how we respond to stress – including whether we smoke, drink or use other substances – and how active we are can affect blood pressure. The typical American diet of refined foods, high in saturated fats and loaded with salt, is a major culprit.
The good news is that high blood pressure can often be regulated and controlled naturally by taking the following steps:
1. Maintain a healthy weight
2. Engage in regular physical activity (20 minutes or more) multiple days a week
3. Follow a healthy eating plan that focuses on vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean protein at least 80% of the time
4. Choose foods lower in sodium and rich in potassium (like this yummy and satisfying recipe)
5. Don’t smoke
6. Avoid alcoholic beverages, or save your adult beverages for special occasions, to be enjoyed in moderation
7. Practice stress reduction techniques, such as breathwork and meditation
The best part about all of these steps is they help to prevent high blood pressure! Even if you don’t have hypertension, all of these suggestions add up to good health so don’t be shy, give ‘em a go. You are worth the effort!
If you don’t know what your blood pressure is, make an appointment to see your doctor, or buy a blood pressure cuff at your local drugstore. Remember, knowledge is power. Once you know better, you can take the simple steps towards optimal health and living your best life.
Health Coach, Wellness Expert and Freelance Writer
at Well Beings
Karen Azeez is a health coach, wellness expert and freelance writer. Karen helps busy men and women incorporate simple lifestyle changes into their daily routine to address issues such as weight gain, insomnia, stress and digestion problems. Karen enjoys cooking healthy meals, hiking with her husband and border collie and watching way too many TV shows about wedding dress shopping.
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