According to the CDC, about 75 million American adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension—that's 1 in every 3 American adults. High blood pressure occurs when your blood pressure rises above what is considered healthy (i.e., >120/80 mm Hg).
Blood pressure rises when resistance inside the arteries (pipe-like tubes carrying blood away from your heart) increases. It’s like a vicious cycle. High blood pressure stiffens and narrows your arteries, and the narrower your arteries, the higher will be your blood pressure.
High blood pressure is especially concerning because it is a “silent killer” and often shows no warning signs or symptoms. In the long term, it can take a heavy toll on your health, leading to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and organ damage in the acute crisis setting.
Tips for Prevention
Just like many other health problems, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to hypertension. Here are a few to keep high blood pressures at bay:
1. Opt for an All-rounded, Balanced Diet
The type of diet you consume plays a vital role in keeping your blood pressure within the healthy range. So, be sure to opt for a heart-healthy diet that includes foods like:
- whole grains
- fatty fish
2. Remove the Saltshaker from your Table
Salt is that one notorious mineral that will wreak havoc on your blood pressure. An increased salt intake raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream and wrecks your kidneys’ ability to remove water. The result is a higher blood pressure due to a surplus of fluid and extra strain on your delicate blood vessels.
Therefore, taming your salt habit by incorporating “no added salt” to your diet is the key to preventing your blood pressure from rising. It’s always easy (and a bit tempting too) to reach out for a salt-shaker when having your meal. Try practicing some negative reinforcement here. Remove the salt shaker (the desirable stimulus) from your table, so you do not have anything to reach out for when your taste buds tell you to. The idea is to discourage the habit of using a salt shaker.
Another tip is to always grab low-sodium foods when shopping to ensure you’re not feeding your blood vessels with the most unwanted ingredient – i.e., sodium.
3. Move More, Sit Less, and Exercise Daily
We are used to a sedentary lifestyle today than ever before, which is why our risks of developing obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and heart disease have skyrocketed.
Too much sitting adds to the extra inches of belly fat, which in turn, makes you two to six times more likely to develop high blood pressure than if your BMI falls within the healthy weight range.
On the contrary, being physically active can help lose the extra pounds of flesh that will keep your blood pressure at the desirable levels. And believe it or not, but you don't have to be a marathon runner to benefit from physical activity. Activities as light as half an hour walk, when done daily, can help lower your risk. A study published in the American Heart Association's journal, Hypertension, reveals that breaking up your sitting time with just three minutes of activity as simple as walking may improve blood pressure in people who are overweight.
Integrate Standing and Cycling into your Workstation
One of the best ways to break your sitting habit is by alternating between sitting and standing with a standing desk converter like the AlcoveRiser Standing Desk Converter - Eco Series 35". Research from the University of Pittsburgh showed that folks who alternated between sitting and standing throughout the day had lower blood pressure. The authors of the study concluded that regular use of a sit-stand desk may be a practical way to alleviate BP while being engaged in deskwork.
The benefits of trading in your traditional sitting desks with this era’s state-of-the-art sit-stand converters are huge when used in the right way. Another study conducted by the University of Minnesota found significant beneficial effects of sit-stand workstations on blood pressure readings. Dr. Mark Pereira, who lead the study suggested to slowly add to your standing time, such that after about four weeks, half of your desk-time should be spent standing at your desk.
What’s more? Cycling workstations appear to outperform than standing desks when it comes to heart health. This is because biking/cycling tends to speed up the heart rate, help lower blood pressure, increase the number of calories burned, and thereby minimize your risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. Using the FlexiSpot’s Under Desk Bikes V9U is a fantastic way of integrating biking/ into your work schedule. We suggest pedaling desk bikes at a slower speed while you analyze how it impacts your work, productivity, & heart rate, and then build up from there.
4. Drink Alcohol in Moderation, if at all
Drinking too much alcohol can make blood pressure go up. To help prevent high blood pressure, limit how much alcohol you drink to no more than two drinks a day. The "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" recommend limiting the alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day for women and to no more than two drinks per day for men. This obviously doesn’t mean that people who do not drink start drinking the liquor. The Guidelines aim to keep your alcohol intake as minimum as possible if you do drink.
5. Tame stress
Stress can raise your blood pressure, and over time amp up your risk of cardiovascular disease. So, whenever hit by stress, instead of getting worked up, try practicing stress-busting strategies like mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai-chi, and qigong.