February is Heart Health Month. The Topic is Hypertension: Part One

♥IMPORTANT: The purpose of this three-part article embraces the quote below about  prevention with education and action.  However, please note that the information here is not meant to replace your doctor’s advice nor is it meant as a diagnosis. It is information for your edification and understanding, and perhaps something you can share with your doctor about your concerns. I am not a doctor. Rather, I am a nutrition educator with a passion to learn about and share the links between food & lifestyle and health.

Background Info:

February is  ♥Heart Health Month♥ and this Friday, Feb. 3rd, is Go Red for Women Day, and also National Wear Red Day, the day to wear Red in support of healthy hearts for womenHere is a quote from honor.americanheart.org:

Why Go Red? Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. Fortunately, we have the power to change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action.

 

“Elevated blood pressure is a major risk factor for a heart attack or stroke. In fact, it is generally regarded as the greatest of the risk factors for a stroke.” (Source: Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D.)

So when my friend Krista* called me the other day to tell me that when she went to a new dentist, who took an extensive health history and also her vital signs, she was told she had high blood pressure. Later that day I took all my health resource books from my shelf and started to gather facts that might help her while she made an appointment with her family doctor.

*Krista shared with me that she was in the beginning stages of menopause, or peri-menopause, so I searched for a tie between higher blood pressure and menopause. In an article from the Mayo Clinic+, it seems there is a connection. Google the questions or go directly to the website for the article. If you are peri-menopause, you may want to read it before you read the rest of my posting.

+Is there a connection between menopause and high blood pressure?Answers from Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D., www.mayoclinic.org

Terms and Numbers:

The top number in the reading is called the systolic pressure and that is the higher number. Between the heartbeats, the heart relaxes, so the blood pressure drops. This diastolic pressure is the lower number. Both these terms give you your blood pressure reading, which means the resistance produced each time your heart beats, sending blood through your arteries.

According to an excellent article In Life Extension Magazine, the numbers used by the medical establishment for normal blood pressure may be too high: Here are some figures:

Direct Quote: The medical establishment disagreed and said that blood pressure up to 139/89 mmHg was not a problem. A huge study released in 2015 exposed the lethality of this position. In the group whose target goal systolic blood pressure was below 120 there was a:1

  • 38% lower relative risk of heart failure;
  • 43% lower relative risk of cardiovascular death;
  • 27% lower relative risk of mortality overall.

(I believe this article is so important that I am posting the link here as well as at the end of the two-part article that I think it bears reading now!)

http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2016/11/Lower-Blood-Pressure-Empowers-Longer-Life/Page-01

All my resources overlapped in recommendations, but the above-mentioned encyclopedia divided the factors into two parts: lifestyle factors and dietary factors, because both are related to hypertension.

Below are two lists that I created from information on the encyclopedia and the other resources. (See Bibliography at the end)

Lifestyle Risk Factors                                            Dietary Risk Factors

Smoking                                                            High to low sodium/potassium ratio

Alcohol consumption+                                  Low fiber diet

Lack of exercise                                               High sugar and high saturated fat

Stress                                                                 Low calcium and magnesium

Too much salt                                                   Low vitamin C

Too much caffeine (Some research suggests caffeine is helpful, others still cautious. www.activebeat.com notes that medical studies still connect caffeine with dangerously elevated blood pressure and suggests brewing your own decaf.) I would recommend organic decaf because of the chemicals used in commercial decaf processing.

+ In www.activebeat.com, moderate drinking is now encouraged. For women, that means only 1.5 oz. of spirits or 5 oz. of wine, or 12 oz.of beer at one sitting) See Bibliography at the end.

Many of the recommendations are similar to those given for other ailments, so if you follow the advice of the research and your health practitioner, you might find relief from other ailments not as serious as hypertension, but nevertheless, any positive “by-products” of changing your lifestyle habits and dietary habits seem to be steps in the right direction. My suggestion is to introduce new foods gradually so that you don’t become overwhelmed with all the changes the doctor suggests.

In Dr. Christiane Northrup’s excellent book, The Wisdom of Menopause, she says it best on page 190 in the summary of Chapter 6 on Foods & Supplements to Support Change. Direct quote:

Start Somewhere! Don’t let all these choices overwhelm you or become another heavy list of “should.” The wisdom of nature is user-friendly, and you have a lot within you already. To tap into it, just pick the herb, the formula, or the foods that seem to jump out at you and say, “Try me.” Because all of the foods and herbs I’ve mentioned contain phytohormones of some kind and virtually have no side effects, feel free to experiment.”

I would add: Check with your doctor or health practitioner first! es

 

Bibliography: I am posting the Bibliography in both parts of the article, in case you want to follow up on some of the information before Part 2.

 

BIBLIOGRPAHY/RESOURCES:

Balch, James M.D. and Balch, Phyllis, C.N.C. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Avery Publishing Group, New York.

Kamen, Betty. 1,001 Health Secrets, Nutrition Encounter, Novato, Calif.

Murray, N.D. and Pizzorno, N.D. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA. (2nd edition)

Northrup, Christiane, The Wisdom of Menopause. bantam Books, New York, 2001.

Segala, Melanie, Ed. Life Extension: Disease Prevention and Treatment, Expanded Fourth Edition

Internet Sources: (My sources are older, so I checked the Internet, as well.) www.activebeat.com: “8 Naturally Effective Ways to Lower Blood Pressure,” By: Emily Lockhart on Tuesday, March 10th

Life Extension: (The first is one of the best resources I found for this topic. es)

http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2016/11/Lower-Blood-Pressure-Empowers-Longer-Life/Page-01

http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2016/11/Why-24-Hour-Blood-Pressure-Control-Matters/Page-01

www.mayoclinic.org. Is there a connection between menopause and high blood pressure? By: Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D., 

 

Part Two later this week: List of Recommendations, including Nutritional Suggestions/Recipe, and Bibliography Reprinted 

Part Three: Heart Healthy Recipes – endof week or over the week-end

 

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