People who are overweight are more likely to be plagued by high blood pressure. But aside from genetics, there are many other factors that can be responsible for high blood pressure, including stress, anxiety and other health problems. One of the most important things you can do to control high blood pressure is to cut back on salt, by limiting your intake to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.
Blood pressure is measured by using a stethoscope, which detects small vibrations in the blood vessels. There are two main results that the stethoscope measures: systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the blood pressure as the blood pump gets going, when the heart contracts and pumps blood throughout the body. Diastolic blood pressure is the blood pressure when the heart is resting and the blood pressure gets lower.
It is traditional to define high blood pressure as a systolic blood pressure of 140 or higher or a diastolic blood pressure of 90 or more. According to the World Health Organization, high blood pressure was the leading risk factor for premature death worldwide in 2010.
High blood pressures can damage organs and vessels throughout the body, including the brain, kidneys, heart and eyes. High blood pressure may also be responsible for increased rates of coronary artery disease that result in myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke and kidney failure.
Controlling one’s weight is an effective way to control hypertension because this practice reduces fat mass in visceral adipose tissue. Also, aerobic exercise has been proven to reduce arterial stiffness in people with essential hypertension.
When a person with high blood pressure resumes physical activity, they experience an increased cardiac output and reduced peripheral vascular resistance. When studied under controlled conditions, the positive effects of exercise on arterial stiffness are evident after only 6 weeks of regular aerobic training in people with hypertension. People who continue to remain physically inactive have stiffer arteries than their peers who engage in regular physical activity. These results suggest that chronic low-grade systemic inflammation might be responsible for arterial stiffness associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). One way to treat this type of inflammation is by exercising because exercise stimulates nitric oxide production in endothelial cells lining blood vessels. Nitric oxide inhibits NADPH oxidase activation, which reduces tissue oxidative stress, activates endothelial NO synthase and restores production of endothelial nitric oxide.
Patients who have stage 2 hypertension, which means that their blood pressure is between 140/90 to 159/99, can typically control their condition through a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. For example, they might limit the amount of salt they eat or lose weight by exercising more.
People with mild high blood pressure (that is, stage 1) may also be able to exercise enough to get it under control without drugs.
Exercise has been shown to reduce arterial stiffness in both healthy people and those with hypertension; however exercise-induced benefits were limited in patients with OSA. Exercise training does not appear to improve endothelial dysfunction in adults with OSA.
High blood pressure can be deadly; it is important for people to cut down on salt in their diet, maintain a healthy weight and get regular exercise in order to control high blood pressure.