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(16) Heart Smiling

 Effects of High Blood Pressure


Blood Pressure & Heart Attacks

The Silent Killer – High Blood Pressure

What happens when you blow too much air into a balloon? If it doesn’t pop, the overextended balloon becomes thin and delicate. Properly inflated, the balloon can be safely bounced, bent, and moved around. A balloon with too much air becomes a pop waiting to happen. Don’t let this happen to your vessels and heart.

We need blood pressure for our blood to circulate. Too much pressure makes the heart and blood vessels thin and delicate. Increased pressure on the arterial walls makes them more susceptible to fatty deposits.

High Blood Pressure is Often Symptomless

The dangers of untreated hypertension can be deadly! If left untreated, the arteries can become hardened, scarred, and less elastic, unable to carry adequate blood to the organs. The heart, brain, and kidneys are most vulnerable. High blood pressure is the highest risk factor for stroke and heart disease. High blood pressure causes the heart to enlarge and become less efficient, known as left ventricular hypertrophy. This dangerous condition can lead to heart attacks. Many connect stress with high blood pressure. Some studies have suggested that chronic stress can lead to permanent increases in blood pressure and heart rate. Example: Air traffic controllers, who have high-pressure jobs, have a two to four time’s higher rate of hypertension and heart problems.

For a healthy, fit heart, it’s wise to keep your blood pressure within the normal 120/70 range. You can manage this with simple dietary and lifestyle changes. Exercise, deep breathing, ample sleep, and a healthy diet help keep your blood pressure under healthy control.

Don’t eat salt or add salt to food, and avoid prepared foods with high salt, sugar and fat contents. Especially avoid simple sugars like refined sugar and keep your fat intake to a minimum! Never use highly saturated fats. Avoid the fast, nutritionally empty foods so common in our on the go culture. Eat nutritious foods!

What Blood Pressure Measurements Mean

There are two types of blood pressure readings. Systolic pressure (first figure in reading) refers to pressure exerted by the blood while the heart is pumping; this reading indicates blood pressure at its highest. Diastolic pressure (second figure) reads the blood pressure when the heart is at rest in between beats, when the blood pressure is at its lowest. Both readings are important; neither should be high. A normal pressure reads 120 over 70 to 80 (120/7080), with the systolic pressure measuring 120 mmHg and the diastolic pressure measuring 70 to 80 mmHg.

High Blood Pressure in Adolescence

New Millennium Studies presented at the Scientific Session of The American College of Cardiology in Anaheim, California, found that children, who are overweight at ages as young as six or seven, are more likely to have high blood pressure by adolescence! Researchers studied 200 children for ten years, examining blood pressure, obesity, and metabolic abnormalities. The results showed the body mass index (overweight) correlated strongly to higher blood pressure in the children, even after they reached young adulthood. The finding strongly suggests primary overweight prevention may need to begin even before the first day of school, promoting good nutrition as well as exercise and fitness.

High Blood Pressure Linked to Mental Decline

High blood pressure can lead to declines in some mental abilities, according to researchers at the University of Maine ( Elevated blood pressure is a strong predictor of changes in brain structure and related cognitive functioning. The researchers examined blood pressure and mental function in 140 men and women age 40 to 70 years old. They found that higher levels of blood pressure were associated with greater declines in intelligence tests, visual-spatial abilities, and speed of performance.

Harvard School Public Health Study found 84% of those who sought a second opinion after scheduling heart bypass surgery, were told they didn’t need it! Many patients who undergo heart bypass surgery suffer a significant and long-lasting loss of brain power.

Lowering Blood Pressure Reduces Heart Risk

The International Society of Hypertension unveiled results of the largest hypertension study ever completed, called the Hypertension Optimal Treatment (HOT) study, they found lowering diastolic blood pressure level of 90 mmHg, can help reduce major cardiovascular risk! The study also found that patients with diabetes, who lowered their diastolic blood pressure level to 80 mmHg, lowered their risk of cardiovascular problems. This study amassed 18,790 patients in 26 countries over a five-year period. According to Dr. Claude Lenfat, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, if physicians lower blood pressure beyond traditional levels of 90 mmHg, there’s reason to believe that cardiovascular morbidity and mortality can be diminished. The study found that patients with coronary artery disease had a 43% reduction in strokes with those whose blood pressure level was a healthier 80 mmHg and lower. High blood pressure (hypertension) is the most common heart disorder and a leading cause of death in America. Over 300,000 deaths per year in persons age 65 to 84 are due to cardiovascular disease and more than $259 billion dollars are spent for their medical care!

AHA Says Diet Lowers High Blood Pressure

Individuals with high blood pressure should not only put away the salt shaker, but eat more fruits, vegetables and fat-free or low-fat dairy products, announced the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee. They also recommend potassium, calcium and magnesium rich diets. Dr. Theodore Kotchen, AHA nutrition committee member stated, this indicates that dietary components other than salt are also important in the control of high blood pressure. Diets which are high in potassium such as bananas, dates, potatoes, and raisins tend to lower blood pressure. One in four American adults has high blood pressure, which increases their risk of stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure. Avoiding a high-salt diet, not being overweight individuals, and restricting alcohol intake are very important, notes Dr. Kotchen.

 We tend to think of advances in medicine as being a new drug, a new surgical technique, a new laser, something high-tech and expensive. We often have a hard time believing that the simple choices that we make each day in our diet and lifestyle can make such a powerful difference in the quality and quantity of our lives, but they most often do. My program consists of four main components: exercise, nutrition, stress management, love, and intimacy – these promote not only living longer, but living better.

– Dean Ornish, M.D.



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