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Health and Fitness News

High Blood Pressure Triggers

What to avoid to lower your blood pressure.

Millions of people are living with high blood pressure, and many of them don’t know it. If not properly managed, high blood pressure leads to all sorts of trouble. It increases the risk of heart attack and stroke and damage to your kidneys, brain, or eyes. Hence why high blood pressure is called the silent killer.

What exactly is blood pressure? A measurement of how hard your blood pushes on the artery walls. A normal blood pressure reading is lower than 120/80 mmHg. Anything higher than this on a consistent basis is considered high. In medical speak, this is known as hypertension.

Once you learn your blood pressure is high, it’s up to you to get it into a healthy zone. If you’re working to get your blood pressure under control, here are five things to avoid.

Lighten Up on the Sodium

Your diet plays a leading role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. One of the main culprits for hypertension is sodium. Even cutting back a little will lower your numbers. Adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. You can get that much in a single teaspoon of salt.

The saltshaker isn’t the only thing to avoid. Be vigilant about what you eat. Read ingredient labels and choose low-sodium options. Watch out for processed foods, which often contain high amounts of sodium for taste and preservation. A few foods with the highest amount of sodium include canned soups, frozen pizza, deli meat, hot dogs, and pickles.

Stop Smoking

Whether you smoke or inhale secondhand smoke, your blood pressure will go up. Nicotine narrows your blood vessels, hardens blood vessel walls, makes your blood more likely to clot, and increases your heart rate. All of these raise your blood pressure and put you at risk for heart attack or stroke. To lower your blood pressure to a safe zone, put smoking in your past.

Leave Alcohol Alone

Moderate alcohol intake may actually help your blood pressure. But anything more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men can raise your blood pressure. If you’re taking medication to reduce blood pressure, you may want to skip alcohol altogether. Even a little may prevent your medicine from doing its job.

Sour on Sugar

You know sugar doesn’t help your waistline, but it also does no favors for your blood pressure. In fact, some suspect sugar is more harmful than sodium to your blood pressure. A diet high in sugar is associated with metabolic syndrome. This condition includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, high triglycerides, and excess belly fat.

How does it all connect? When you eat sugar, your insulin levels go up. This triggers an increase in your blood pressure and heart rate. Additionally, sugar may harm the body’s mechanisms that regulate blood pressure.

Kill the Stress

It’s easier said than done, but if you want to lower your blood pressure, lower your stress levels. Studies show stress can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure. Can it also lead to long-term blood pressure problems? More research is needed to know for sure.

What is known is that stress causes your body to produce hormones. Unlike feel-good hormones, these narrow blood vessels and increase your heart rate. Both of these raise your blood pressure. Stress often contributes to other unhealthy lifestyle choices. Many of them lead to high blood pressure. Smoking, drinking, and eating junk food can all occur due to stress. Lower your stress levels with exercise, deep breathing, and cutting unnecessary activities from your schedule. Know what causes you to stress? Avoid it.