Go! Go! Go! We are always on the go to keep up in this world that never seems to stop. This fast pace can be a plus, but it can also be a minus, if it creates added stress. Also, there is an overabundance of fast food restaurants on every corner which poses as an added convenience on a busy day. When I was growing up, eating out was a treat…it wasn’t something we did everyday. Now, many eat out every single day. This coupled with stress, can add on the pounds and affect our health….in particular our blood pressure.
I like to think of blood pressure as water flowing through a hose. When the water pressure is mild, the water flows gently through the hose. However, when we turn the water on full blast, there is a lot of pressure on the walls of the hose. The water then comes out of the hose full blast. The same is true with our blood pressure, when blood is flowing through our arteries and the pressure is high, it is damaging the walls of the arteries and putting a lot of pressure on our heart and other organs.
Often times, high blood pressure gives no warning signs. That is why as we age, we must keep an eye on our blood pressure. I must admit though, I have seen an overwhelming rise in high blood pressure in younger children and teens. It is extremely important for us to keep an eye on our loved ones, regardless of the age.
Stress can be very harmful to blood pressure. The stress we feel when driving or during the work day, definitely influences our blood pressure if it continues to happen over a period of time; so can the abundance of salt that we find in so many of the foods that we eat. According to the American Heart Association, to lower blood pressure we should limit the amount of sodium to 2400 milligrams per day. Reducing sodium intake to 1500 milligrams per day is desirable because it lowers blood pressure even more. My favorite meal plan when trying to lower blood pressure is the DASH diet (click on link below)!! It has been the #1 diet for managing blood pressure and other conditions for the last few years (according to US News & World Reports).
As a nurse, I think it is very important for everyone to remember that when it comes to our health, we are in the driver’s seat. It is up to us to take action when changes in lifestyle or medication are not reaching goal. We have to be very proactive….after all we only have 1 life (at least on this side).
Tips to Manage Blood Pressure:
- Manage Stress.
- Develop an exercise plan.
- Reduce weight.
- Quit smoking.
- Monitor your blood pressure regularly (don’t wait until you have to go to the doctor).
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Resources (click on the links):