Danny Gonzalez, RN for St. Mary Medical Center and Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Portage Township YMCA is here to answer all of your health-related questions. It's hard to know where to start when taking steps to better your health these days. Asking the questions are easy, but find the answers...that's another story. Lucky for us, Danny makes it easy with his clear and concise (and humorous) answers to our tough health questions. Get ready to get some knowledge dropped on you!
This week's question: How do you lower your blood pressure?
Danny G.: Eat a balanced healthy diet, stop smoking, lose weight, say no to drugs and alcohol, slow down and help your body relax from stress. Sometimes a walk, meditation, deep breathing exercises and even soaking in a hot bath or shower can aid in lowering blood pressure. Again, try to be active more often during the day. A simple daily walk for 20-30 minutes per day at a moderate speed tends to have a suppression effect on high blood pressure. Also, monitor your blood pressure. Take advantage of free screenings at health fairs, in your local Walgreen's or other retail pharmacies that may offer the free blood pressure stations. And of course, you can always drop in and see me at the Portage Township YMCA. We offer daily blood pressure screenings and I'll be happy and able to help monitor your results, any time! Feel free to call me at 219-764-7217.
Knowing what your vitals range is very important. Also understand that "normal" varies from children to older people. Normal blood pressure is 120-80 and below; Pre-hypertension is 120-139/80-89; 1st stage Hypertension is 140-159/90-99; and 2nd stage Hypertension 160/100 and above. If your blood pressure high, there are a number of things you can do to that may help lower it.
You can cook your own, or buy low or unsalted foods. Understand this about salt. When consuming excess amounts of salt, your body can begin to retain excess amounts of fluid, which causes your blood to have more fluid volume. This in return causes the heart to have to pump and work harder in order to get that excess fluid volume to move throughout the body. The result is higher blood pressure. Many Americans consume up to 5000 milligrams per their daily intake, which we as medical professionals consider unhealthy. In fact, the American Heart Association advises that the human body can function with eating as little as 200mg of salt daily.
Avoid caffeine, much chocolate, white carbs (pastas, bread), candy, sugar, sugary drinks and excessive dietary fats. I recommend eating a more plant-based diet. Avoiding nervous system stimulants like coffee and caffeinated beverages will aid in lowering blood pressure. For those who drink a lot of caffeine, please keep in mind you may need to taper off slowly that substance due to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches.
Finally, increase your daily intake of fiber. This helps cleanse digestive systems and helps control blood pressure by promoting digestive regularity. Fiber is found in most vegetables. Many fruits, nuts and legumes are also rich in fiber.
Working some or all of these activities into your daily routine will not only have a positive effect on your blood pressure levels, I guarantee you'll start to feel better overall, as well!
Do you have a question for Danny? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title: Attention Danny G. You can also contact Danny at the Portage Township YMCA by calling 219-762-9622.
*Discalimer: The information in this article is for informational purposes only and not intended as medical advice.