High Blood Pressure Recommendations and Considerations

High Blood Pressure Recommendations

❑ Follow a strict salt-free diet. This is essential for lowering blood pressure. Lowering your salt intake is not enough; eliminate all added salt from your diet. Read labels carefully and avoid those food products that have “salt,” “soda,” “sodium,” or the symbol “Na” on the label. High Blood Pressure Recommendations. Some foods and food additives that should be avoided on this diet include monosodium glutamate (Accent, MSG); baking soda; canned vegetables (unless marked sodium- or salt-free); commercially prepared foods; over-the-counter medications that contain ibuprofen (such as Advil or Nuprin); diet soft drinks; foods with mold inhibitors, preservatives, and/or sugar substitutes; meat tenderizers; softened water; and soy sauce.

❑ Eat a high-fiber diet and take supplemental fiber. Oat bran is a good source of fiber.
Note: Always take supplemental fiber separately from other supplements and medications.

❑ Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, such as apples, asparagus, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, eggplant, garlic, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables, melons, peas, prunes, raisins, squash, and sweet potatoes.

❑ lnclude fresh “live” juices in the diet. The following juices are healthful: beet, carrot, celery, currant, cranberry, citrus fruit, parsley, spinach, and watermelon.

❑ Eat grains like brown rice, buckwheat, millet, and oats.

❑ Drink steam-distilled water only. High Blood Pressure Recommendations.

❑ Take 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil daily.

❑ Avoid all animal fats. Bacon, beef, bouillons, chicken liver, corned beef, dairy products, gravies, pork, sausage, and smoked or processed meats are prohibited. The only acceptable animal foods are broiled whitefish and skinless turkey or chicken, and these should be consumed in moderation only. High Blood Pressure Recommendations. Get protein from vegetable sources, grains, and legumes instead.

❑ Avoid foods such as aged cheeses, aged meats, anchovies, avocados, chocolate, fava beans, pickled herring, sherry, sour cream, wine, and yogurt.

❑ Avoid all alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.

❑ If you are taking an MAO inhibitor (one of a class of drugs prescribed to counter depression, lower blood pressure, and treat infections and cancer), avoid the chemical tyramine and its precursor, tyrosine. Combining MAO inhibitors with tyramine causes the blood pressure to soar and could cause a stroke. High Blood Pressure Recommendations. Tyramine-containing foods include almonds, avocados, bananas, beef or chicken liver, beer, cheese (including cottage cheese), chocolate, coffee, fava beans, herring, meat tenderizer, peanuts, pickles, pineapples, pumpkin seeds, raisins, sausage, sesame seeds, sour cream, soy sauce, wine, yeast extracto (including brewer’s yeast), yogurt, and other foods. In general, any high-protein food that has undergone aging, pickling, fermentation, or similar processes should be avoided. Over-the-counter cold and allergy remedies should also be avoided.

Caution: Brewer’s yeast can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Start with a small amount at first, and discontinue use if any allergic symptoms occur.

❑ Keep your weight down. If you are overweight, take steps to lose the excess pounds.
Losing 10 percent of your body weight will reduce blood pressure, and may even allow you to use less of your medications, if you are currently taking medications—or avoid them altogether, if you are not. High Blood Pressure Recommendations.

Caution: You should not stop taking your medication without consulting your physician.

❑ Fast for three to five days each month. Periodic cleansing fasts help to detoxify the body.

❑ Get regular light to moderate exercise. Take care not to overexert yourself, especially in hot or humid weather.

Caution: If you are thirty-five or older and/or have been sedentary for some time, consult with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.

❑ Be sure to get sufficient sleep. High Blood Pressure Recommendations.

❑ Have your blood pressure checked at least every four to six months. Because hypertension often shows no signs, regular blood pressure checks by a professional are important, especially if you are in a high-risk category.

❑ Take your blood pressure at home. This is a good way to track your blood pressure levels throughout the day. Any minute your blood pressure is elevated, there is stress on your blood vessels, which increases your chance of a stroke.

❑ If you are pregnant, have your blood pressure monitored frequently by your health care provider. Untreated hypertension in pregnancy can progress suddenly and pose a serious threat to both mother and child.

❑ Do not take antihistamines except under a physician’s direction.

❑ Do not take supplements containing the amino acids phenylalanine or tyrosine. High Blood Pressure Recommendations. Also avoid the artificial sweetener aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), which contains phenylalanine.

❑ As much as possible, avoid stress.

Considerations

❑ The most vital lifestyle changes you can make to reduce hypertension can be summarized as follows:

• Maintaining a normal weight.
• Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
• Eating less saturated fat and salt.
• Getting a minimum of thirty minutes of aerobic exercise per day. Walking is an excellent exercise.

Caution: If you are thirty-five or older and/or have been sedentary for some time, consult with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.

• Limiting consumption of alcohol to a maximum of two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

❑ The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was developed by scientific experts in the field to help patients with high blood pressure lower it. The diet recommends:

• less than or equal to 27 percent of calories from fat,
• less than or equal to 6 percent saturated fat as a percentage of calories,
• more than or equal to 18 percent of calories as protein,
• less than or equal to 150 milligrams of cholesterol a day,
• more than or equal to 31 grams of fiber,
• at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium,
• 500 milligrams of magnesium, and
• 1,240 milligrams of calcium.

❑ If you have high blood pressure or wish to prevent it, it is important to follow the DASH diet guidelines and be aware of any personal food preferences you have that may keep you from meeting these guidelines.

❑ In another study (the PREMIER study), researchers looked at patients with high blood pressure and found that a 12 to 14 percent reduction in heart disease risk was possible by following the DASH diet or just a simpler version of a low-salt diet combined with regular exercise and weight loss.

Caution: If you are thirty-five or older and/or have been sedentary for some time, consult with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.

❑ Fruits and vegetables cause the release of a hormone that opens up blood vessels. Eating up to six servings a day of both fruits and vegetables can reduce blood pressure.

❑ Hypertension is directly related to a number of other conditions, such as arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and high cholesterol.

❑ Because the use of diuretic drugs causes increased urinary excretion of magnesium, it can cause hypomagnesemia (magnesium depletion), particularly in older adults. Magnesium is needed in conjunction with calcium to prevent bone deterioration, as well as to maintain a normal heart rhythm and muscular contraction. Losses of potassium due to diuretics also are common and may be dangerous, causing heart malfunction. Often potassium supplements are prescribed. Consult your physician before using diuretics.

❑ People with hypertension often suffer from sleep apnea, in which they stop breathing for ten seconds or more throughout the night. Apnea is associated with loud snoring and restless sleep, and can cause the individual to feel excessively sleepy during the day. Evaluation and treatment of apnea may help reduce high blood pressure.

❑ Some risks for hypertension cannot be changed—a family history of the disease, for instance. However, many risk factors can be avoided by making changes in diet and lifestyle.

❑ According to the National Stroke Association, hypertension is the most important controllable risk factor for stroke, increasing the risk of stroke by seven times.

❑ Approximately 26 percent of Americans with normal blood pressure and about 58 percent of those with hypertension are salt sensitive.

❑ Research has revealed that people with variations in two specific genes are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure from salt consumption. This discovery may make it possible to identify children prone to high blood pressure; if such people can be identified in early childhood, it may be possible to modify their diets so that they can avoid developing high blood pressure later in life.

❑ Heavy snorers are more likely to have high blood pressure or angina than silent sleepers. Research suggests that snorers may suffer from a malfunctioning of the part of the brain responsible for fluent breathing; this can put an unnatural strain on the heart and lungs due to oxygen shortage.

❑ Researchers at the State University of New York found that the lower the level of magnesium in the body, the higher the blood pressure. This double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showed that taking supplemental magnesium can result in a significant, dose-dependent reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

❑ Apple pectin aids in reducing blood pressure.

❑ A synthetic heart hormone that appears to be very effective in lowering blood pressure is currently undergoing testing at some twenty-five medical centers.

❑ Certain colors have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. Music also can be used to reduce stress and thereby lower blood pressure.

❑ Taking medication for high blood pressure may lead to low blood pressure (hypotension). Hypotension can cause fainting, fatigue, and weakness, possibly with nausea, sweating, and restlessness preceding a loss of consciousness. Postural hypotension, or orthostatic hypotension, a very temporary lowering of blood pressure, is usually caused by standing up too suddenly. This leads to dizziness and wears off quickly.

For older adults, low blood pressure can simply result from eating. This is called postprandial hypotension. It happens because blood is diverted to the gastrointestinal tract to help with digesting the food. In older people, the heart is not as efficient at increasing blood flow by pumping more quickly, so, with too much blood going to help with digesting a meal, there is too little traveling to the brain. Drinking lots of fluids increases blood volume, which may alleviate this condition. In some cases, low blood pressure can be a sign of heart disease or blood loss, especially a sudden loss of blood such as in an accident. In very many cases though, moderately low blood pressure is a sign of good health, especially in younger people.