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Live Life to the Youngest ® RealAge®


Health Tips to look younger and live longer...


5 Causes of High Blood Pressure&An Eating Plan To Help LowerYour Numbers By Toni Gasparis


Are you always confused by the numbers you hear when your blood pressure is taken? High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a result of many different factors that make it harder for your heart to pump blood through- out your body. This disruption in the body can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. In order to avoid these serious health conditions, as well as others, it's important to know exactly what causes high blood pressure. Some thingsmay surprise you. It turns out that some of your everyday habits could be the culprit.While knowing your family history is important, factors like what you eat and how often you exercise can help or harm your body. Take a look at these five reasons your blood pressure could be high so you canmake informed lifestyle choices to decrease it. Plus, learn about the eating plan that can help lower your numbers. Always remember to get your blood pressure checked at your yearly physical — and if the numbers confuse you, ask the doctor to clarify.


Understanding High Blood Pressure Before you knowsome of the causes of hyper- tension, you should familiarize yourself with the basics. You may have noticed that at your annual physical your doctor takes your blood pressure by placing an arm cuff on you, pumping air into the cuff, and then releasing it. A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 or less (but not too low). When the numbers are higher than that your physician may want to monitor you or have extra tests done. The first number in a blood pressure reading is the systolic number which indicates how much blood is pressuring your arteries while your heart is beating. The second number is the di- astolic number which indicates how much blood is pressuring your arteries in between heartbeats. Higher numbers indicate the blood is not properly pumping and is instead causing stress on your arteries which can lead to dangerous health problems in the future.


Stress When you are stressed your hormones can get out of whack which in turn can increase your blood pressure. If you are stressed over long periods of time your blood pressure can con- tinue to elevate and put a strain on your heart. Stress can also lead to other bad habits like overeating and drinking in excess, which can also negatively impact your blood pressure numbers.


Eating Salt Salty foods are high in sodiumwhich canmake you retain water.When your body holds onto water it can put stress on your blood vessels that in turn can elevate your blood pressure. It is important tomaintain a healthy and balanced diet that does not contain a lot of salt to reduce the risk of hypertension.While looking for salt in foodmay seemeasy enough, remember that processed foods – especially canned soup – have a huge amount of hidden sodium that is bad for your body.


Sedentary Lifestyle Sitting all the time and not getting much exercise on a regular basis can cause a whole slewof health problems – one ofwhich is high blood pressure.When your body is sedentary your heart is also sedentary and not working as effectively as it could. This side effect will decrease the efficiency of your heart which then increases your blood pressure. A lazy lifestyle can also impact your arteries and cause more plaque buildup which is a risk factor for heart attack and other diseases.


FrequentAlcohol Consumption Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to have health benefits, but frequent drinking aswell as drinking in excess has been shown to affect the central nervous systemand then the heart and blood pressure as a byprod- uct. Having a few drinks in one sitting could increase blood pressure for a little while, but continuous drinking could permanently influ- ence and increase your numbers. If youwant to have a drink occasionally, or even a couple


times a week, make sure to follow standard health guidelines for alcohol: one drink for women per day and two drinks for men per day. A drink is considered 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of liquor.


Weight Gain Stress, insomnia, poor nutrition, excessive drinking, and lack of exercise are only a few factors that could contribute toweight gain and hypertension. When you are overweight or obese your heart must work harder and there- fore your blood pressure numbers will most likely increase to an unhealthy level. Get your weight under control by eating balancedmeals and engaging in physical activity. If the numbers on your scale go down, your blood pressure numbers will likely go down too.


Other Causes of Hypertension These five factors are not the only causes of high blood pressure. Other potential causes include, but are not limited to, smoking, family history of hypertension, improper diet, sleep apnea, race, gender, and age. It is important to see your doctor on an annual basis so that they can continue to monitor your blood pressure. If you think you may have hypertension it is essential to make an appointment and share these concerns with your doctor so you can seek treatment if needed.


The DASH Diet TheDASHdiet stands forDietaryApproaches to Stop Hypertension – it is a meal plan for anyone looking to lower their blood pressure and improve their overall health. Research has shown that this diet can lower blood pressure in two weeks by helping you cut back on sodium, learn proper serving sizes, and under- stand the best foods to eat for your body. The DASH diet is not only for those with hyper- tension though, anyone can participate in the diet plan to loseweight and learn howtomain- tain a healthy lifestyle.


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Reprinted with permission by RealAge, Inc. Copyright (c) 2005. All rights reserved. For an accurate calculation of your RealAge, visit www.RealAge.com. All rights reserved. RealAge is a U.S. federally registered trade- mark of RealAge, Inc. Republication or redistribution of RealAge content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of RealAge. RealAge shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. RealAge, Inc. is a consumer-health media company and provider of personalized health information and management tools. These tools motivate health-conscious people like you to look, feel, and actually be many years younger—to Live Life to the Youngest®.


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