Blood Pressure And Stroke Awareness

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Blood Pressure And Stroke Awareness

06/09/2020

Co-Written By Stephanie Biggs And Courtney Kassis

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High blood pressure affects 1 in 3 adults in the United States. In this article, we explain what high blood pressure is, foods that can help to reduce high blood pressure, and some easy lifestyle changes that you can start incorporating today.

WHAT IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?

High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, is the presence of abnormally high amounts of pressure of blood against blood vessels and artery walls as the heart contracts. There are many reasons high blood pressure develops, but research is now finding inflammation could be playing a significant role in the development and progression of high blood pressure for many individuals.

WHAT IS CONSIDERED HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?

Normal Pressure: Less than 120/80

Pre-high blood pressure: 120–139/80–89

Stage 1 High blood pressure: 140–159/90–99

Stage 2 High blood pressure: 160 and above/100 and above

WHAT IS A STROKE?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain becomes blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). There are different forms of stroke, and some can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. High blood pressure is the number one controllable risk factor for having a stroke.

SPOTTING A STROKE

F.A.S.T. is an acronym for helping to remember the signs of a stroke. By recognizing the signs of a stroke, it can help save time and save lives.

F - Face One side of the face droops. Ask the person to try to smile.

A - Arms Numbness or weakness occurs on one arm. Ask the person to lift up both arms.

S - Speech Speech becomes slurred. Ask the person to repeat back a simple sentence.

T - Time Time is of the essence. If a person displays any of these symptoms, call 911 and get them immediate medical attention.

WHAT IS METABOLIC SYNDROME? HOW DOES IT INFLUENCE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE & INCREASE THE CHANCE OF STROKES?

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is the presence of three or more of the following health conditions: high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, low HDL cholesterol, or abdominal obesity (defined by waist circumference). However, elevated blood sugars are the underlying key driver of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is an inflammatory health condition, making it a severe risk factor for high blood pressure and increasing the chance of a stroke. Luckily, a healthy diet can help manage or even reverse metabolic syndrome!

SIMPLEX HEALTH’s NUTRITIONAL TIPS FOR CONTROLLING HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND STROKE

AVOID PRO-INFLAMMATORY FOODS

Refined Fats:

  • Vegetable, soybean, safflower, sunflower, canola, corn, & cottonseed oil
  • Trans fats or “hydrogenated oils.

Refined Sugars or CarbohydratesHigh Refined Sodium-Containing Foods

Bread & bread products (tortillas, bagels, English muffins, etc.), cereal, chips, sweets

Canned, packaged, or processed foods (think: processed cheese, canned soups, frozen meals, processed meats, bread, salad dressings, sauces, etc.)

CONSUME FOODS & NUTRIENTS THAT SUPPORT YOUR HEART HEALTH

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega 3 fatty acids are important for fighting inflammation.

  • Dietary sources include wild-caught fish and seafood, grass-fed beef, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.
  • In addition to omega-3 rich foods, additional healthy fats can also improve your cholesterol profile and reduce inflammation.
  • Raw nuts and seeds, avocados and avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil and olives, pasture-raised eggs (yolks), full-fat coconut milk, and unrefined coconut oil.

Potassium: Potassium is an important electrolyte that helps to balance out the adverse effects of too much sodium (salt) on blood pressure. Eating a diet high in processed foods which tend to be high in refined salt, and not eating enough vegetables and fruit can contribute to higher blood pressure.

  • Potassium-rich foods include avocados, sweet potatoes, bananas, melons, broccoli, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, and even oily fish (wild-caught salmon, tuna, halibut).

Magnesium: Magnesium helps to relax and dilate blood vessels, which may reduce pressure on artery walls.

  • Magnesium-rich foods include dark chocolate, dark leafy greens, avocado, and nuts and seeds.

B-Vitamins: When insufficient levels of certain B-vitamins are present, blood levels of homocysteine can increase, which may increase the risk of heart disease.

  • Foods rich in B-vitamins include salmon, trout, oysters, clams, mussels, liver, and egg yolks. Vitamin B9 (folate) is found most abundantly in green leafy vegetables. Aim to include about 1 cup of green leafy vegetables a day. If you are on blood-thinning medication, talk to your physician or dietitian first before increasing your intake of green leafy vegetables.

GarlicTurmeric & Ginger: Both turmeric and ginger contain potent anti-inflammatory compounds. These anti-inflammatory properties may help lower blood pressure and protect the blood vessels from damage. Add fresh grated ginger or turmeric to cooking or use in smoothies and tea.

  • Garlic acts as a natural vasodilator. Use fresh garlic to flavor dishes.

Vitamin K2: Low vitamin K status has been linked to higher blood pressure and stiffer arteries in studies. Vitamin K2 may stop the progression of arterial stiffness.

  • Sources of vitamin K include green leafy vegetables (K1) and fermented foods and liver (K2).

Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to heart disease and an increased risk of high blood pressure.CoQ10: Co10 is a powerful antioxidant found in every cell of the body, especially the heart. When taken as a supplement, it may help reduce blood pressure and protect the heart.

  • Sources of vitamin D in the diet include pastured raised eggs, mushrooms, fatty fish and liver. Getting 15-20 minutes of sun exposure most days also increases vitamin D levels. If you’re unable to obtain adequate vitamin D from your diet or sunlight, discuss vitamin D supplementation with your physician or Simplex Health dietitian.

ADDITIONAL LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO CONSIDER

In addition to diet, there are several other important lifestyle changes to consider.

  • Weight Loss: A weight loss of as little as 10 pounds can have significant effects on lowering blood pressure: The average reduction is 4.5 points systolic over 3.2 points diastolic.

  • Physical Activity: Being sedentary can increase the risk of high blood pressure. Including regular physical activity reduces stress, facilitates weight loss, and strengthens the heart. Aim for at least 30-45 minutes of exercise a day.

  • Limit Alcohol Intake: Excess alcohol consumption has been shown to promote pro-inflammatory processes, both causing and worsening high blood pressure. It’s important to limit alcohol intake to prevent negative cardiovascular side effects.

  • Tobacco Use: Smoking is a well-known risk factor for stroke and heart attack and smokers are more likely to develop high blood pressure. Tobacco use causes damage to the lining of the arteries which can promote inflammation, worsening high blood pressure

  • Changing your diet and incorporating movement can significantly reduce high blood pressure. Though we have provided some basic guidelines for managing your blood pressure, it is recommended that you meet with a Registered Dietitian to develop a custom health care plan that is catered to your needs.

WHAT IS SIMPLEX HEALTH?

Simplex Health implements the functional medicine model into healthcare, corporate and personal health settings by developing evidence-based protocols that align with the Institute of Functional Medicine. Simplex Health’s Registered Dietitians and Health Coaches administer transformational nutrition protocols and behavioral therapies that treat the person, not the symptom. Their services can be accessed virtually with live telehealth appointments or in-person at their offices located throughout the greater Philadelphia region. Ask your physician at PMA Medical Specialists if interested in meeting with a Simplex Health dietitian.

PATIENT SUCCESS STORY

Judy, a 56-year-old female, was able to reduce her blood pressure medicine by half with Simplex Health’s Simplex15, a restorative metabolic protocol. By making easy and sustainable diet and lifestyle changes, Judy lost 31 lbs, and she is not stopping. With the support of her Simplex Health Registered Dietitian, Health Coach, and her custom health plan, Judy now feels confident she can reach her goal weight.

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