As your parents grow older it can be hard for them to realize what their health means to them. Through the process of caring for my mother after a stroke, I became increasingly aware of the health of my body, especially what it takes to really do the best to prevent heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one cause of death in women, and a whopping 1 out of 3 women will die of heart disease.
High blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension is a very preventable disease, but it puts our heart at huge risk. Hypertension is caused by the following:
- Obesity (either currently obese or obese as a child)
- Lack of exercise
- A diet high in salt (over 1,500 milligrams per day), saturated fats, and alcohol (above one or two drinks a day)
- Deficiency in Vitamin D, Calcium, potassium, and magnesium
- Kidney disease and thyroid problems
- Family history of hypertension
The disease quietly damages the arteries causing many health problems.
HBP is a disease that begins with slowly narrowing and hardening the arteries – the passage ways for blood. It is very simple to think about how dangerous high blood pressure can be if you realize that the arteries bring oxygen to the cells throughout the body; without oxygen cells will die.
Fat collects in the walls of the arteries overtime making spaces tighter and more narrow and less flexible. Without intervention the arteries could burst, or entirely block the blood flow. Unless you are fine with constant chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke, blocked arteries in your legs and arms, eye damage and bulging arteries that cause life threatening internal bleeding, a change must be made for the sake of your loved ones. It can be so hard to make big lifestyle changes, so discuss the risks with those you care for to help them “follow the rules”.
This is a huge reason to lower your blood pressure to a healthy level. A stroke is more likely to happen if a person has high blood pressure because of the damage to the arteries. A damaged, narrow and hardened artery is more likely to burst or clog, blocking the flow of blood to the blood vessels in the brain. This will leave render sections of the brain unusable for many things like thoughts controlling the movement of body of parts.
This is similar to a stroke in that an artery gets clogged, but different than a stroke, the clot occurs in the lung. Blood flow is blocked by a blood clot that has formed in another part of the body (usually in the legs).
Hypertensive heart disease
This is the number one cause of death for those with high blood pressure. The term really refers to a group of disorders including ischemic heart disease (reduced blood supply to the heart), heart failure (the heart weakens and becomes less efficient, and eventually gives up), and left ventricle hypertrophy (the heart muscle is thickened excessively because the heart is working harder than it is meant to).
What you can do for your loved ones.
Diet to lower you blood pressure
With changes to the diet, you and your loved ones can escape the health risks associated with hypertension such as stroke, pulmonary embolism, and heart disease. Try to eliminate salt (sodium), Trans fat, and too much saturated fats. Sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet even a few days a week will help immensely. Just add more healthy nuts and legumes for healthy fats and protein while incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables. Put almonds, quinoa, lentils, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, colorful peppers, and berries.
Exercising to lower your blood pressure
Not only does exercise reduce stress, it helps to naturally lower blood pressure by strengthening the heart. Help your loved ones get around 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, splitting it up if necessary. Climbing stairs, walking, jogging, swimming and bicycling are great ways to strengthen the heart, making it pump blood more efficiently.
Stop smoking now!
Now is the time to quit if you or a loved one smokes. It is the most common cause of deaths related to cardiovascular problems. It is also the most avoidable cause.
Be smart about medication
Blood thinners might be prescribed in certain cases where risk of stroke or pulmonary embolism is high. Make sure you are in the know about all of the side effects inherent in the drugs. Pradaxa, for example, is a blood thinner that has caused huge lawsuits due to many deaths by internal bleeding.
Once diagnosed with high blood pressure, help your loved ones access their life and make changes to improve their health and their future quality of life. Do the best you can for your body and those that you care about. The risks are too high not to!
Writing on behalf of DrugNews.net, Madeline Ferdinand loves keeping the old youthful and the youthful wise. When she’s not writing, she loves sampling exotic teas and painting pottery with her granddaughter.