What is Prehypertension?
We have known for sometime now that poor lifestyle habits such as high sodium diets and no exercise can cause high blood pressure.
High blood pressure often comes with its complications that develop over time – heart disease, stroke (three times more likely than somebody with normal blood pressure), kidney disease, blindness and dementia.
Because of this the United States federal government set out some guidelines for individuals to identify prehypertension.
In order to determine what a person’s blood pressure is, a blood pressure unit is strapped around your arm and a cuff is pumped up with air to make it a tight fit. When the air pressure is released, a systolic reading is done which measures the amount of pressure being pushed through the arteries as blood is pumped by the heart muscle. When the heart muscle is between beats, the second reading of blood pressure will be read. This is called the diastolic pressure. A normal blood pressure would read 120 over 80.
Whether you test your blood pressure yourself or your doctor takes it, if you have a systolic reading between 120 and 139 and a diastolic reading between 80 and 90 you have prehypertension. Readings greater than 139 over 90 are considered hypertension.
If you are a healthy young adult there is probably not a lot you need to worry about. Readings are known to fluctuate at this age. However, it is suggested that you get a yearly check up just to be on the safe side.
As we age and our lifestyles become more chaotic, we find ourselves doing less exercise than when we were young adults and consuming the same high sodium/fat foods that our bodies once processed easily. This is when prehypertension has a tendency to creep into our lives.
Dr Chobanian suggests otherwise, “There are populations in the world where age-related rises in blood pressure are minimal. In areas of Mexico, certain areas of the South Pacific, and other parts of the world with very low salt intake, there’s not anywhere near the age-related rise in blood pressure that we see in the United States.”
There are small lifestyle changes you can make to prevent and reduce your blood pressure. Here are a number of steps you can take to get your blood pressure down.
6 Steps to Preventing Prehypertension
1 ) Get active – Regular exercise is key to reducing blood pressure. Its also great for keeping your weight under control and it makes you feel awesome. Vigorous walking, dancing, biking, it doesn’t really matter just do at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity.
2) Watch your diet – Eat mostly vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, healthy oils (extra virgin olive oil), low fat dairy products. If you eat meat try to limit your red meat intake as saturated fat has been shown to increase blood pressure.
4) Avoid alcohol or at least limit it.
5) Quit smoking – seek help if needed
6) Mange Stress – Relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga are proven to reduce stress which can cause high blood pressures.