Understanding Blood Pressure Readings
Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like this:
The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).
The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).
The chart at the bottom of this page (fig. 1) reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association.
Since the beginning of time, folks have been trying to crack the code on how to extend healthy human life. Today in the United States the life expectancy at birth is about 78 years old, which is a 28-year leap from the life expectancy in 1900.
Surely changes in environment such as better sanitation, antibiotic use and overall improvement of medical care are greatly responsible. This upward trend is great, but how come our longevity numbers are slipping compared to other developed countries?
Recently, the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study to assess the impact that 12 modifiable dietary, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors have on mortality in the United States. Because Juvenon's mission is to add five quality years to our customers' lives, we believe it's important to focus on preventable causes of degeneration and ultimately death. Many of the Harvard findings are to be expected, while others may come as a surprise.
Top Preventable Causes of Death
Smoking, high blood pressure and obesity top the list of preventable risk factors for premature mortality. The Harvard researchers discovered that smoking is responsible for 467,000 premature deaths each year, high blood pressure for 395,000 and being overweight for 216,000. According to the study, smoking is responsible for about one in five deaths in American adults. Perhaps more surprising, high blood pressure follows closely behind and is responsible for one in six deaths.
All of the deaths calculated in the study were considered premature or preventable. And interestingly, all the risk factors can be modified.
High Blood Pressure Threatens Both Women and Men
While all the risks – including physical inactivity, high blood sugar and high LDL cholesterol, etc. – chronicled in the study are worthy of attention, this month we will address high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the leading cause of death in adult women, killing 230,00 American women annually – accounting for 19% of female deaths. For comparison, that is more than five times the number of annual deaths in women from breast cancer. And certainly men aren't immune to the threat of high blood pressure, which is the second highest preventable cause of death for males after smoking.
High blood pressure is a sly enemy, as it presents no symptoms. However, those with high blood pressure are more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke, as well as aneurysms, cognitive decline and even kidney problems.
The Role of the Mitochondria
Mitochondria are the membranes that enclose cells. They are the "cellular power plants" because they convert food to energy in order to supply energy to cells. They play a critical role in a range of other cellular processes such as cell differentiation, cell growth and cell death.
Mitochondrial function decline with age. This dysfunction results in increased ROS (reactive oxygen species) or 'free radicals' which cause inflammation and damage the cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels (endothelial cells). An emerging explanation is that this leads to high blood pressure. Mitochondria are integral to proper cardiac function. When the mitochondria do not function adequately, the heart does not get its required fuel, resulting in hypertension and eventually cardiac failure. Fortunately, many people can lower their blood pressure naturally without medication.
Monitoring Your Blood Pressure
Now here's the rub: according to the American Heart Association 28 % of Americans have high blood pressure and don't know it! However, this can be remedied easily. The first, best step is to visit a doctor to obtain an accurate blood pressure reading and also advise you if it's in the danger zone. Once you know you have high blood pressure you can work with your doctor to control it. Between doctor visits you can monitor your numbers with an inexpensive home blood pressure device (some may be covered by insurance) or a free monitoring station available at many pharmacies.
According to the Harvard Medical School this two-pronged approach is smart because as many as 20 % of Americans have different blood pressure at home than in the doctor's office. This 'white-coat hypertension,' may be the result of the stress many of us feel in a medical setting. Conversely, some people have 'masked hypertension' – normal numbers in the doctor's office, but high numbers at home during episodes of stress.
To get a precise read on your blood pressure, aim to test it in the morning before you take any medication or eat and then again in the evening. Keep track of your numbers for the week leading up to your doctor's appointment. Armed with the in-home numbers and office setting numbers, you and your doctor can figure out an appropriate game plan, which may or may not require medication.
6 Lifestyle Changes That Can Lower Your Blood Pressure
1. Slim Down
Think about it, the more you weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. Therefore, as the volume of blood circulating through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your precious artery walls.
2. Exercise Your Ticker
It stands to reason that couch potatoes tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction, and the stronger the pressure on your arteries. Also, inactivity often goes hand and hand with obesity. Whether you aim for a brisk walk or a challenging marathon, exercise helps the heart use oxygen more efficiently, so it doesn't need to work as hard to pump the blood.
3. Pile on the Potassium
According to the Mayo Clinic, potassium-rich fruits and veggies are an essential part of any blood-pressure lowering program. Potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells. If your diet doesn't include enough potassium, you may accumulate too much sodium in your blood. So load up on bananas, orange juice, melon, potatoes, peas and dried fruits to up your potassium quota.
4. Quit Tobacco
Sure, you probably knew it threatened lung health, but did you know that smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raises your blood pressure? What's more, the tobacco's chemicals can damage the lining of your artery walls. And this in turn causes the arteries to narrow, which can increase blood pressure.
5. Eat Your Way To Healthy Blood Pressure
Studies now suggest that certain foods can work naturally to dilate blood vessels so the heart doesn't have to work so hard. Blueberries, which contain natural compounds called anthocyanins, have been shown in studies to protect against hypertension. Additionally, nitrate-rich beet juice (or whole beets) can lower blood pressure. Researchers also found that a daily dose of dark chocolate can lower blood pressure, especially in those who already have hypertension.
6. Supplemental Support
Targeted supported for maintaining normal blood pressure can also include supplementation. Juvenon has been shown in a clinical trial to help support normal blood pressure levels Juvenon's patented combination of alpha lipoic acid and acetyl-l-carnitine has been shown in laboratory experiments to support proper mitochondrial function as cells age.
A review of 12 studies found that coenzyme Q10 (found in Juvenon's Q-Veratrol) may also help support normal blood pressure. Required for energy production and stored in the mitochondria, this antioxidant dilates blood vessels.
Additionally, there's some evidence that vitamin C and vitamin D supplementation can be helpful in blood pressure support. Note: you should always consult with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any nutritional supplement.
In the coming months, the Juvenon Health Journal will explore other preventable causes of death cited in the Harvard study. By offering effective, all-natural supplements and health news you can use, Juvenon provides an essential toolkit to battle these aging enemies. For more information on the Harvard study,
Read the Abstract here