Blood pressure at or below 120/80 is considered average or good, but once you reach 130/80-90 this is sometimes classified as pre-hypertension. Systolic is the top number and represents the pressure in the aorta on the contraction of the left ventricle which pushes blood into the body. High blood pressure is dangerous because it causes damage to the arterial walls, increasing the likelihood of aneurysm, stroke, and even heart failure. Over time, the pressure exerted can cause a breakdown of circulation and a backflow of blood into the heart.
Several factors increase the risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure:
- Stress and Anxiety, specifically cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone which raises blood pressure and increases heart rate.
- High sodium diet, though the link here may not be as close as once thought
- Low sodium, potassium, or magnesium levels
- Alcohol Consumption
- Lack of Sleep
- Atherosclerosis – restriction of blood flow
The American way of life adds up to a high risk of hypertension- too much stress, not enough relaxation, too much sodium and processed food, too much alcohol, too much caffeine, and a lack of sleep are all common. I believe what was making mine run high was too much caffeine, and not enough sleep. I was not a big partier anymore, but I might have had on average 1-2 servings of alcohol 5 days per week. I also didn’t pay too much attention to how much salt or calories I took in, because I was so active I thought I would burn it off or sweat it out.
Just making a few adjustments, and now my blood pressure regularly measure below 110 systolic, 80 diastolic. My most recent readings were 103 / 78. These are the things I did to get it down:
- Potassium and Magnesium supplementation every day *More about this later, because I think I was taking in too much Magnesium.
- 10-15 minutes of deep “diaphragmatic” breathing every day, while meditating or walking, usually walking. This causes a dilation of the arterial walls and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which combine to lower blood pressure.
- 1 serving of alcohol per day, versus 2, 3-4 days per week and several days of abstinence. Occasionally I break this but not often.
- Cutting back on coffee helped a lot. Simply put, I love coffee and I was drinking too much. I cut back to none or 1 cup per day.
- Generally avoiding chips, and processed food. I have a salty tooth, not a sweet tooth, so this one is tough!
- Plenty of water, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
With the magnesium, I think I was overloading on it, because I started getting mysterious headaches. When I cut back on Magnesium, my headaches subsided. My theory is that it was working so well at relaxing the arterial walls, that it was causing too much blood flow to the brain.
So there it is, try those things, and see if they work for you. I may have problems in the future, you never know, but for now this seems to have helped!
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