The secret to a healthy heart!

We all want to know how we can keep healthy, and one of the most important organs we need to show some TLC to is our heart! Research shows that the secret to a healthy heart could actually be based on your blood pressure. A new study found that maintaining normal blood pressure long term could be the key to reducing your chances of developing cardiovascular disease as well as a host of other health conditions such as stroke, heart attacks and kidney failure.

Why is your blood pressure so important?

High blood pressure is the bigger concern as this means that your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. This can put extra strain on your heart and blood vessels, which subsequently raises your risk of having a heart attack.

Severely elevated blood pressure is referred to as a hypertensive crisis, and there are several symptoms to look out for:

  • Headaches, often accompanied by blurred vision and confusion.
  • Nose bleeds.
  • Severe chest pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Anxiety.

How is your blood pressure measured?

Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps, and the narrower your arteries and the higher your blood pressure. A blood pressure reading is given in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). It has two numbers.

The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. This is known as systolic pressure.

The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats. This is known as diastolic pressure.

A healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

Typically, hypertension develops over the course of several years without obvious symptoms. There are two main types of hypertension. Primary hypertension (or essential hypertension) develops over time with no identifiable cause but can be linked to genetics, physical changes in your health and more importantly lifestyle choices. Secondary hypertension often occurs quickly and can become more severe than primary hypertension. It is often associated with conditions such as kidney disease, sleep apnea and thyroid issues.

Early detection is important. Regular blood pressure readings can help you notice any changes. If your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor may have you check your blood pressure over a few weeks to see if the number stays elevated or falls back to normal levels.

What can you do?

There are many things we can do that can help keep our blood pressure normal.

A healthy and balanced diet rich in potassium, magnesium, fiber, and lower in sodium can help control blood pressure, so look at foods such as leafy greens, berries, and red meats.

Reduce salt in your diet. Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can improve your heart health and reduce blood pressure by about 5 to 6 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.

Exercise has been proven to lower blood pressure naturally, and strengthen your cardiovascular system, so is a great alternative to medication.

Keeping hydrated by drinking six to eight glasses of water daily (even more if working in hot and humid conditions) is beneficial for blood pressure.

Quit smoking. Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure for several minutes after you finish. The chemicals in tobacco are also known to damage blood vessels. Stopping smoking helps your blood pressure return to normal. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health.

Lower Stress Levels

Stress is a key driver of high blood pressure. Being in stressful situations repeatedly keeps the body in a constant state of fight-or-flight. On a physical level, this causes a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels. Practicing yoga, deep breathing and meditation help manage stress, but if you’re not a fan of this then don’t worry!

Lots of people find that even a short walk or jog helps alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.

Unsure about your blood pressure? We make sure every member of Urban gets theirs checked regularly. Book yourself into a Wellness Consultation with us today, and we’ll help you to keep tabs on yours!