Measuring Your Own Blood Pressure
The only way of constantly keeping track of your blood pressure is with the help of a blood pressure monitor.
But be careful if you are going to acquire one because there are many types and models of blood pressure monitors available so you have to find the ones that suit you best.
When suffering from high blood pressure it is very important to monitor how the values of your blood pressure change during the day.
This way you will have an active role in taking care of your own health and it will be very easy to determine what kind of treatment you need.
The price of a digital blood pressure monitor is not too elevated and they are quite easy to use too.
When you’ve just bought one the best thing to do is to pay a visit to your doctor and he should be able to instruct you on how to use the blood pressure monitor.
It is important to do this because otherwise you may perform innaccurate measurements and this should be avoided.
You must also take into account the fact the values of the blood pressure vary at everyone. So do not be frightened if a few of your readings are a bit over the line, this is normal for everybody.
You should only worry if these high values keep repeating, and in this case you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Also, the values of the readings that you make with the blood pressure monitors may be lower than usual a few times, which is also normal.
If you want the readings to be as accurate as possible try to sit down, rested, on a hard surface when performing the measurements.
Ideally, we should all have a blood pressure below 120 over 80 (120/80).
This is the ideal blood pressure for people wishing to have good health. At this level, we have a much lower risk of heart disease or stroke.
If your blood pressure is optimal, this is great news. By following our healthy living advice, you will be able to keep it this way.
If your blood pressure is above 120/80mmHg, you will need to lower it.
Most adults in the UK have blood pressure readings in the range from 120 over 80 (120/80) to 140 over 90 (140/90).
If your blood pressure is within this range, you should be taking steps to bring it down or to stop it rising any further.
The reason why people with blood pressure readings in this range should lower it.
Even though this is not classified as ‘high’ blood pressure. Is that the higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of health problems.
For example, someone with a blood pressure level of 135 over 85 (135/85) is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone with a reading of 115 over 75 (115/75).
High blood pressure (hypertension) puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. This can cause them to become weaker or damaged.
The higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of serious health problems in the future. High blood pressure can affect your body in a number of ways:
- Your heart: high blood pressure can cause you to have a heart attack. It can also cause heart failure.
- Your brain: high blood pressure is a leading cause of strokes. It has also been closely linked to some forms of dementia.
- Your kidneys: high blood pressure can cause kidney disease.
- Your limbs: high blood pressure can cause peripheral arterial disease, which can affect your legs.
If you have other health conditions, such as diabetes or high cholesterol, this increases your risk of health problems even more.
It is then even more important to lower your high blood pressure.
Foods Scientifically Proven To Lower Your Blood Pressure
Nitrates and nitrites are compounds that play a big part in our metabolic system. The influence they have can be quite confusing, but it’s definitely worth understanding if you’ve got blood-pressure problems.
Many believe nitrates and nitrites are unnatural, although that’s not actually the case. They are commonly added to foods as preservatives, but they are also naturally produced by your body for saliva.
Nitrates and nitrites can be converted into two different compounds: nitrosamines (very bad) or nitric oxide (very good).
Nitrosamines are produced when nitrites are exposed to extremely high temperatures. Think frying nitrites in preservative-loaded bacon, or the nitrites in cigarettes. Most of these increase your risk for cancer.
Nitric oxide (NO), on the other hand, acts as a signaling molecule, one that is typically beneficial to health.
It gives signals to the cells in your arteries, telling them to soften and relax. This action greatly improves vasodilation, which reduces blood pressure.
For this reason, nitrate-rich foods that are not exposed to very high heat are beneficial because they can become nitric oxide. What most don’t realize is that vegetables are the largest source of nitrates in the human diet.
Beetroot is the best of the bunch, with most research focusing on beetroot juice supplementation. A 2013 review looked at the results of 16 clinical trials on the topic, and found that beetroot juice intake reduces blood pressure by 4-10 mmHg in just a few hours.
A reduction of at least 5 mmHg in blood pressure reduces your risk of a fatal stroke by 14 percent and cardiovascular disease by 9 percent.
Did you know garlic was not historically used for cooking?
Throughout history, garlic’s main use was for health and medicinal purposes. This has been documented by major civilizations such as the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese.
The active ingredient in garlic is allicin, a sulphur compound formed when a garlic clove is crushed, chopped or chewed.
Several human studies have shown that supplementing with garlic significantly lowers elevated blood pressure. One study even found garlic was just as effective as prescribed medications after 24 weeks.
Considering that garlic also reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 10-15 percent, adding more to your diet is an absolute necessity, in my opinion.
These results have been seen with supplementation of 600-1,200 milligrams per day—equal to eating at least two garlic cloves daily.
There is one strong side effect though: garlic breath!
Traditionally from China, green tea is loaded with an array of powerful compounds and antioxidants unrivalled by any other food.
The reason tea—green tea in particular—is so beneficial is because of its polyphenols.
One particular green tea polyphenol, known as catechin, has shown to improve blood flow and blood pressure. Like beetroot and curcumin, the mechanism is thought to involve nitric oxide.
A large review of green tea confirmed that two cups per day (500 milliliters) can increase arterial diameter by up to 40 percent.
Just as wider pipes will increase water flow, wider and more relaxed blood vessels increase blood flow, reducing pressure. It’s no real surprise then that regular green tea drinkers have up to a 31 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Turmeric is a popular Indian curry spice. For centuries, Indians used it not only in their cooking but also as a medicinal herb. And they were on to something.
Turmeric’s medicinal properties have only recently been confirmed by science and are very impressive. The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
In a study of 32 post-menopausal women, supplementing 150 milligrams of curcumin for eight weeks successfully improved blood flow to levels seen in those who exercise three times per week.
Another human study using 500 milligrams of turmeric three times per day (containing 22.1 milligrams curcumin in each dose) reported large decreases in blood pressure in subjects with nephritis, or inflammation of the kidneys.
Those with cardiovascular issues, particularly diabetics, are at high risk for such kidney problems.
The benefits curcumin has on blood flow and blood pressure are believed to be related to nitric oxide, similar to beetroot mentioned above.
Supplementation of curcumin has shown to increase circulating nitric oxide, in some cases by up to 40 percent in just four weeks. These potential cardiovascular benefits are too great to ignore, especially if you are at high risk of complications.
There is just one problem with curcumin: Humans are very bad at absorbing it. For any noticeable health benefits, it is essential to consume curcumin with an enhancer such as black pepper.
Black pepper contains piperine, a substance that boosts curcumin absorption by a whopping 2,000 percent.