Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The High Blood Pressure Diet

One of the main causes for deaths in United States is diseases of the heart and blood vessels. People with hypertension, or high blood pressure, are the ones more likely to develop these diseases. Thus, it is most important to try and lower the elevated blood pressure.

Hypertension is incurable in most normal cases. However a successfully managed lifestyle along with proper medication could help you fight the disease. The main part consists in reducing the amount of sodium in your diet which helps to bring blood pressure levels down.

Changes in the diet
If food is appropriately selected a diet forhigh blood pressure can be varied and adequate in all nutrients, including vitamins and minerals.

The function of Sodium
Sodium is an essential mineral for good health. While an average American adult consumes 4,000 to 6,000 milligrams of sodium daily, the recommended daily limit for the general public is only 2,400 milligrams. A person with high blood pressure should consult a doctor to see how much sodium should be consumed daily. Normally, 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams (2to 3 grams) is enough.

The most common dietary source of sodium is salt. Sodium is one of two minerals that constitute salt (the other is chloride). One teaspoon of salt contains an enormous 2,300 milligrams of sodium and you can imagine an entire day's sodium consumption! This is not all; sodium is also "hidden" in your diet in other foods. The processed and packaged foods also contain sodium in varying amounts.

The Must Do's

ยท Read all food labels- Most sodium in the diet comes from processed foods. This makes it important for you to check the nutrition facts label for sodium content. Try to select only foods which are labeled as low-sodium, very low sodium, or salt-free, and keep away from products with high sodium content. Baked goods made with baking powder or baking soda can also be high in sodium.

- Reduce consumption of high-sodium processed foods - These products would include cured and smoked meats, and some pre-packaged, frozen and canned foods, most soups, and condiments.

- Beware of salt substitutes- You must keep in mind that not all salt substitutes are sodium-free. Read the labels, and if you take medication for your blood pressure, consult your doctor before using a salt substitute.

- Eat sufficient amounts ofpotassium-rich foods - Like sodium; potassium is a mineral essential for good health. It works with sodium to regulate blood pressure. Studies have proved that people who consume more potassium have lower blood pressures than those who consume less.

Thus to bring your blood pressure to the normal level you must consume adequate quantity of potassium. Rich sources ofpotassium includes fruits, such as cantaloupe, bananas, watermelon, oranges and orange juice, as also potatoes, spinach, and zucchini.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blood Pressure: An Overview

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure exerted by the circulating blood on the walls of the arteries, veins and chambers of the heart. The pressure of blood is measured in the context of systolic and diastolic activities. When the ventricles in the heart contract, it is termed as a systolic activity, while the relaxing ventricles mark a diastolic activity. The pressure of blood is highest during the systole activity and lowest during the diastole activity. The unit of measuring blood pressure is millimeters.

A normal blood pressure reading is120/80 mmHg.

A normal healthy person maintains the blood pressure reading of120/80 mmHg. A deviation from this normal reading can result in a blood pressure disorder. There are basically two abnormal conditions of blood pressure. They are known as high blood pressure or hypertension and low blood pressure or hypotension.

High Blood Pressure/ Hypertension

A person is known to suffer from high blood pressure when their measurement of blood pressure increases over that of a normal reading. A normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. When this blood pressure increases to, say 140/ 90 mmHg, the person is known to have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is often termed as 'a silent killer'. You might be suffering from a high blood pressure for a long period of time and not know it at all. When a person develops high blood pressure, it usually lasts for lifetime.

Why High Blood Pressure?

Your heart pumps the blood and supplies it to the various organs of your body via arteries. The arteries, when leaving your heart, narrow into arterioles. The arterioles further narrow themselves into capillaries. These capillaries supply oxygen and nutrients to the various body organs. Due to certain nerve impulses, the arteries become dilated or contracted. If the arteries become contracted, the passage of blood is hampered and it increases the pressure of blood. The condition causes high blood pressure or hypertension. This condition strains your heart and can even damage your blood vessels. If the vessels get damaged, the blood supply can further affect various body organs connected to the damaged vessels.

The human body generally bears and handles this sudden increase of pressure for a long period of time. This is one of the sole reasons for the fact that you can live your whole life, without any ill-effects or symptoms, from high blood pressure.

Two Forms of High Blood Pressure

There are two forms of high blood pressure, essential hypertension and secondary hypertension. Around 95 % of hypertension cases are related to essential hypertension. The cause of essential hypertension is multifold though. There are several factors which result in essential hypertension. One of the major factors is high salt intake. Other factors that can contribute to the cause of essential hypertension are tobacco smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity, diabetes mellitus, a sedentary lifestyle and genetic causes. Secondary hypertension amounts to at least 5% of the cases of hypertension. The factors contributing to secondary hypertension are pregnancy, a slow pulse, drugs, kidney diseases, certain types of cancers, malformed aorta and aortic vale disease.

High blood pressure largely remains undetected in its first stage of occurrence. A person would probably never know about it. But if the condition of high blood pressure prolongs, it can cause serious damages to the various body organs. High blood pressure can directly affect the person in the form of kidney failure, congestive heart failure or heart attack.

Low Blood Pressure/ Hypotension

In the medical terms, low blood pressure is called hypotension. A person is said to have low blood pressure disorder, if his blood pressure falls below the normal reading of 120/80 mmHg. There are many causes of low blood pressure. Among the common causes include acute illness. The condition can be characterized with the symptoms such as severe blood loss, infection, fluid loss or damage to the heart.

The age-factor plays an important role in low blood pressure. Increasing age causes your arteries to stiffen and cause a drop in the pressure of blood. Damage to adrenal glands can also lead to low blood pressure conditions. Damage to adrenal glands affects the production of aldosterone in your body. This hormone controls the salt amounts in the body. If the aldosterone hormone gets affected, it leads to the loss of salt from your body, further resulting in low blood pressure. This causes dizziness when you stand up.

Low blood pressure can also be caused from the usage of diuretics. A person with low blood pressure shows symptoms of chest pain, headache, prolonged diarrhea or vomiting. The person also suffers from burning sensation while urination, stiff neck, high fever and irregular heartbeat. The person, at times, suffers from shortness of breath and a cough with phlegm.

Normal is healthy!

Neither high blood pressure, nor low blood pressure is good for your body and health. You should get your blood pressure checked regularly for either of these two disorders. The proper treatment and control of your blood pressure will definitely enable you to live a healthy and happy life!

About the author: Taximan writes articles on a number of different topics. For more information on Blood Pressure issues please visit