Heart related illness is very common in the United States, with high blood pressure being one condition that’s at the forefront. To effectively pump blood through your body, you require a certain amount of pressure. When that pressure reaches levels that are too high, it can significantly damage your arteries and blood vessels. If you have chronically high blood pressure it can create a lot of force and friction on your blood vessels. This leads to plaque collection. The more plaque on the walls, the smaller and more narrow the blood vessels become. Because of this, it makes it incredibly challenging to pump blood correctly.
“In the US, 47% of the population is diagnosed with hypertension (meaning likely more have it but are yet diagnosed),” Says Dr. Rand McClain, Chief Medical Officer of LCR Health. It’s important be proactive with high blood pressure before the symptoms begin. While uncontrollable things like genetics can make you predisposed, the best way to prevent high blood pressure is through leading a healthy lifestyle. “Obesity, diabetes, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, excess alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and one’s choice of parents (genetics) contribute to risk of hypertension.”
Surprisingly enough, not everyone experiences “signs” when they have high blood pressure. For this reason, high blood pressure can be known as the silent killer. However, it’s prudent to still be on the look out for them. “It may surprise some to note that despite being relatively physically fit, one can experience shortness of breath because of hypertension.” If you find that you consistently have shortness of breath, it may be worth talking to your doctor and asking about next steps to explore what could be the cause.
Proven ways to lower your risk of high blood pressure include exercising regularly as well as eating well. But are there any heart healthy foods you should specifically look out for?
According to Lisa Young, PhD, RD, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, eating fiber regularly is crucial. “Fiber has so many benefits,” she says, “It helps keep you regular, prevents disease including colon cancer, lowers cholesterol, and keeps you full—perfect for managing your weight.” Fiber also slows the absorption of sugar in your bloodstream, which means it can lower high blood pressure and reduce inflammation. Although the general recommendation is 20-35 grams of fiber daily, Young suggests that you aim for at least 25 grams, especially starting out.
It’s imperative to take hypertension seriously. Though, it can be scary that you could be effected with potentially no signs. The key to putting your mind and body at ease is to pay attention to what’s normal for your body. By doing so, it becomes easier to notice when things go out of whack. Breathing is one thing you should stay particularly vigilant on noticing. If you notice that you’re getting short of breath easier than normal, you should talk to your doctor. Additionally, eating a balanced diet rich in fiber is another preventative measure you can take.