I have high blood pressure. I was diagnosed about five years ago. Now I’m not talking ‘my kids drew on the wall and I’m a little steamed’ high blood pressure, I’m talkin’ stroke out, kidney frying, scary kind of high blood pressure. I’m not overweight, nor am I diabetic. I owe this annoying diagnosis to both of my parents, and both of their parents. It’s hereditary. And it sucks.
Heart disease is the most common risk factor for high blood pressure, and heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. So given those grim statistics, I take my diagnosis relatively serious. I say “relatively” because regrettably, I didn’t begin giving my health the consideration that I should have until I had my twins. I’ve been off and on my medication for years. During the “off” periods I had hopes that I could regulate my blood pressure myself through change of diet and exercise – But salty treats and sugary confections continued to call my name – And my exercise regime hasn’t extended far beyond my daily cleaning, and twin chasing. Needless to say, the few efforts that I’ve made haven’t amounted to much.
I got a wake-up call a few days ago. While typing my daily post I was struck with a dizzy spell. It scared the crap out of me. I’ve never been what you’d consider the “sickly” type, so feeling dizzy had me thrown. It’s said that having high blood pressure doesn’t usually come with any sort of symptoms or warnings. Not until it’s very high. I rarely get colds, and I’m usually full of energy, so between the dizzy spell and feeling lethargic, I knew something was wrong.
I dug my blood pressure cuff out from the bottom of the closet (Who needs a constant reminder of their shortcomings?) and proceeded to take my blood pressure. I knew that it had to be the source of my discomfort.
I was floored. My blood pressure was 180 over 116.
Healthy blood pressure is at or below 120 over 80. Yours truly was in the stroke out zone. Needless to say, that sh*t wasn’t cool, and I needed to do something about it fast. I called the husband, and the next day he took off from work to take me to urgent care.
Once there, the doctor prescribed me some new meds. Then I received a proper lecture on how I should watch my salt intake and start a daily exercise regime. He also told me that I wasn’t going to die. Not that day anyway. That was a relief.
With all that being said, We Got Kidz family, please have your blood pressure checked regularly. If gone unchecked and untreated for extended periods, you run the risk of damaging vital organs like your kidneys and heart, and can increase your chances of having a stroke or heart attack. For those of you who’ve been diagnosed and are battling with making those tough lifestyle changes, let’s commit to doing it together.
Here are five tips for lowering blood pressure that you can do now courtesy of Prevention.com (And for my non hyper tensioned folks, these are things you can practice as well in order to take preventative measures.):
Go for power walks.
Hypertensive patients who went for fitness walks at a brisk pace lowered pressure by almost 8 mmhg over 6 mmhg. Exercise helps the heart use oxygen more efficiently, so it doesn't work as hard to pump blood. Get a vigorous cardio workout of at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
Slow breathing and meditative practices such as qigong, yoga, and tai chi decrease stress hormones, which elevate renin, a kidney enzyme that raises blood pressure. Try 5 minutes in the morning and at night. Inhale deeply and expand your belly. Exhale and release all of your tension.
Pick potassium-rich produce
Loading up on potassium-rich fruits and vegetables is an important part of any blood pressure lowering program. Top sources of potassium-rich produce include sweet potatoes, tomatoes, orange juice, potatoes, bananas, kidney beans, peas, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and dried fruits such as prunes and raisins.
Indulge in dark chocolate
Dark chocolate varieties contain flavonoids that make blood vessels more elastic. In one study, 18% of patients who ate it every day saw blood pressure decrease. Have 1/2 ounce daily (make sure it contains at least 70% cocoa).
Take a supplement
In a review of 12 studies, researchers found that coenzyme Q10 reduced blood pressure by up to 17 mmhg over 10 mmhg. The antioxidant, required for energy production, dilates blood vessels. Ask your doctor about taking a 60 to 100 mg supplement up to 3 times a day.