4 Habits That Affect Your Blood Pressure
The American Heart Association has recently published an article listing some amazing lifestyle options that can raise blood pressure (BP). Selected foods, the supplements you take and how quiet you close to your doctor can potentially affect your blood pressure, and that’s not even a complete list. For more information on the topic, read on.
Hypertension is known as “the silent killer” among medical professionals. It has received the infamous nickname because hypertension is a primary cause or contributor to numerous serious medical emergencies as well as more than 7.5 million deaths worldwide each year (ie about 12.8% of all total deaths related to the disease).
As a contributing factor, hypertension significantly increases the risk of stroke, chronic heart failure and heart attack . The risk of all these serious cardiac conditions can be reduced significantly with the early and continuous management of BP.
In recent years, guidelines for hypertension have been modified, and any reading of BP above 130/80 is considered to be hypertension.
This is how hypertension is classified:
- If your systolic blood pressure (the highest number) is between 130-139 and the diastolic (the lowest number) is 80-89, you will have stage 1 hypertension.
- The pressure of the second stage is diagnosed when the systolic measurement is above 140, and above the diastolic is 90.
- Any measure above 180/120 is considered a medical emergency if accompanied by dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest pain. In such cases, it is mandatory to go to the nearest emergency room and seek medical attention, as the risk of stroke and heart attack is extremely high. The most important thing to remember is that managing blood pressure is fortunately a viable task; the majority of patients suffering from hypertension can prevent the adverse effects of the disease if they are diagnosed early.
In addition to taking medication, some lifestyle choices can also help control blood pressure. Here are some of the key habits that can affect the accuracy of a blood pressure reading and increase it. We have also previously written about some methods of lowering blood pressure.
Food and supplements
What we ingest in our bodies influences our health, and some foods, herbs and supplements are known to raise blood pressure. Here are the most common.
- Ingredients found in herbs and nutritional supplements, including, but not limited to, licorice and valerian root , can raise blood pressure. Take a bottle of your supplement of choice to your doctor and let him review the list of ingredients and substances that may potentially raise blood pressure.
- Some foods may interact with specific medications and also raise blood pressure. A group of antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors in combination with foods rich in tyramine, for example, have this specific effect. These foods include aged cheeses, smoked and cured meats and fermented foods (such as soy sauce, olives, etc.).
The main culprits are coffee and alcohol, but other beverages that contain high levels of caffeine, such as green tea extract, can also be dangerous, as all the drinks mentioned above provide an increase in adrenaline.
Adrenaline, in turn, elevates systolic blood pressure and heart rate, but decreases diastolic blood pressure. That is why some people can feel their heart pounding after drinking too much caffeinated drink. Needless to say, this can be dangerous for people whose blood pressure is already very high and especially those who are at risk for a heart attack.
That said, in most cases, the effect is very dose-dependent, and most people will not even notice an adverse effect after drinking a cup of coffee or an alcoholic beverage. For most people with hypertension, it is still acceptable to drink coffee and even some alcohol. Doctors suggest limiting your intake of coffee and alcohol as follows:
- Limit caffeine to less than 300 milligrams (mg) per day (2-3 cups of coffee) in one day
- Do not drink more than 1 drink if you are a woman and no more than 2 if you are a man.
Unreliable Blood Pressure Readings
Some people may end up with unnecessary or inadequate doses of blood pressure medications because of a phenomenon called “white-coat hypertension.”
These are the patients who get nervous when they are in the doctor’s office, which, once again, leaves their bodies full of adrenaline and increases blood pressure. This results in an inaccurate reading and possibly a misdiagnosis.
To avoid this, doctors usually suggest measuring your blood pressure at home, possibly even several times, in different positions and at different times of the day. Write down the measurements and take them to your doctor.
How To Measure Blood Pressure At Home:
- Make sure you are using a trusted device.
- Prepare for a measurement by emptying the bladder and not smoking or drinking coffee 30 minutes before reading.
- For a more accurate reading, measure your blood pressure twice: once after sitting a few minutes before reading and another after standing up for a few minutes. Standing BP measurements are especially beneficial for those who experience dizziness, since a standing position may raise blood pressure in some cases.
Non-prescription drugs and birth control
Few people know that certain over-the-counter medications can increase your blood pressure.
Some of them include anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen and ibuprofen (Advil). Several decongestant medications used for a stuffy nose can also raise blood pressure. A safer option for pain relief would be medications containing acetaminophen (Tylenol), which generally do not affect blood pressure.
Prescription medications are also known to raise blood pressure. Such remedies include:
- birth control pills
- drugs used to treat cancer and mental illness.
Never stop taking prescription drugs without consulting a doctor as it can be fatal. Instead, share your concerns with your doctor and he will probably replace your prescription drugs with a safer alternative.
In fact, that is exactly why we provide all this information: for you to get the best treatment and communicate with your doctor in a comprehensive and intelligent manner.
Important warning! All content in this article is provided for informational purposes only, do not interrupt or begin to take any medication without proper diagnosis by a professional.