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Hypertension in Canadians

The main risk of having HBP is it can lead to heart disease, heart attacks and even sudden death.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure (HBP) is a cardiovascular condition found in almost 1 in 5 Canadians.

Risk of High Blood Pressure

According to Statistics Canada, hypertension, also known as high blood pressure (HBP). is a cardiovascular condition found in 19% of the Canadian population. This is nearly one in five Canadians between the ages of 20 -79 or 4.6 million people. The main risk of having HBP is it can lead to heart disease, heart attacks and even sudden death.

Control or Lower it!

Blood pressure is described as the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. Ideal blood pressure is 110/70mmHg. High blood pressure is when the pressure in your arteries is elevated (140/90mmHg or higher) and your heart has to work harder than normal to pump blood through the blood vessels.

You can have high blood pressure for many years without displaying any symptoms. Even though no symptoms are present, damage to blood vessels and your heart may exist and can be detected through testing. Once detected you must go in for a thorough physical examination and be properly monitored. Initially, physicians prescribe physical activity and modifications to diet as the primary intervention method. If, after three months, blood pressure is still high, medications are considered as a means to control or lower it.

Natural Treatments

If you are pre-hypertensive (120-139mmHg), there are many natural treatments you can follow, with proper medical supervision, that will help alleviate or prevent hypertension. Ensure you discuss natural alternatives with your doctor or Naturopathic physician.

The initial place to start is to eat healthy foods. See a nutritionist or a dietician and have them start you on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and low-fat dairy foods. Ensure you are getting plenty of dietary potassium, which can help prevent and control high blood pressure. Decrease saturated fats and total fats.

Decrease Processed Food

Increase flavour in your diet with salt substitutes or herbs, this will allow you to decrease the salt in your diet. People 51 years or older should be ingesting less than 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day. This would also be appropriate for people who have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Healthy individuals under the age of 51 should maintain their sodium intake at less than 2300mg per day. An additional way to decrease dietary sodium is to decrease the amount of processed food you purchase and eat.

Maintain a healthy weight which can be determined by the body mass index (BMI) in sedentary individuals. The body mass index rating is underweight (18.5 or less), acceptable weight (18.6 to 24.9), overweight (25 to 29.9) and obese (30 or more). Once you’re in the overweight category, losing even 5 pounds can lower your blood pressure.

If you are a sedentary individual (i.e. you perform less than 90-minutes of physical activity per week), you need to increase your physical activity. Strive for a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity a day. To ensure you are safe prior to starting any physical activity, you should fill-out the PAR-Q Plus questionnaire. If you answer “Yes” to any of the questions, you should see your physician. Regular physical activity along with an appropriate nutrition plan, can help lower your blood pressure and keep your weight under control.

Limit Alcohol Intake

Limit  your alcohol intake. Even in healthy individuals, alcohol can raise your blood pressure so drink in moderation. For healthy adults, that means one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and no more than two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.

As much as possible, reduce unnecessary stress in your life. Practice relaxation techniques, such as mediation and deep breathing. Get plenty of sleep; most people require 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.

Monitor your blood pressure at home. Home blood pressure monitoring can help you keep closer tabs on your blood pressure especially if you have white coat syndrome. It shows if medication is working or needs to be adjusted, and alerts your doctor to potential complications.

On a daily basis, practice relaxation, meditation and slow, deep breathing. There are devices that play sounds or soothing music available that can help guide your breathing for relaxation. You could also join yoga or other such practices that teach mediation techniques.

As always the best the best person to judge and maintain your health is you. You are your best advocate in the uncertain highway of life. Ensure you are always seeking proper medical guidance from a foreword thinking medical professional and hire an elite certified personal trainer for a precise exercise prescription.

Written by Cathie Glennon , BCRPA Certified Personal Trainer/SFL/ Rehabilitation Exercise Specialist

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