Welcome to May—also known as National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month. Uncontrolled high blood pressure (also called hypertension) increases your risk for serious health conditions such as heart attack and stroke—and many people don’t experience any signs or symptoms. Risk factors can include age, race, family history, being overweight or obese, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, too much dietary sodium, too little dietary potassium, drinking too much alcohol, and stress. Chronic conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea can also increase the risk for high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
Blood pressure readings have two numbers.
Top number (systolic pressure): Measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
Bottom number (diastolic pressure): Measures the pressure in your arteries between beats.
Fortunately, high blood pressure is easily detected during a visit to your health care provider and many of the risk factors are modifiable. You can’t do anything about age, race, and family history but you can take steps to improve other risk factors.
One of the easiest risk factors to modify is your nutritional intake. Choosing a low sodium diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is not only beneficial for your blood pressure but can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower the risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check.
Flying Frog Fitness has partnered with Smart Nutrition, LLC to bring you monthly health awareness topics in addition to nutritional information and recipes. If you struggle with ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet and would like more information about proper nutrition for better health, please reach out to Jennifer Smart from Smart Nutrition, LLC at 301-332-1012 or online at jsmartnutrition.com.