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What Is Blood Pressure & What Are Hypertension Risk Factors?

Happy adult woman yoga classBlood pressure is the force needed to push blood through your arteries coming from your heart to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body. When your BP is measured you get a high value which is the systolic value and a low value which is the diastolic value.

Typically, the systolic pressure or the number on the top offers the most information about how stiff your arteries are and how much pressure is needed to push the blood around your body. That elevated top number is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

What’s Normal and What’s Considered High?

The high number is the highest pressure that occurs in your blood vessels when your heart is contracting. The low value is the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats when your heart is relaxed. A BP reading that’s considered normal is 120/80 milliliters of mercury (mm Hg). According to updated guidelines 130/80 is considered hypertension. (Having an elevated value in one of those numbers may be enough for a hypertension diagnosis.)

Factors That Contribute to High Blood Pressure

Elevated insulin levels

Insulin helps your body store magnesium which helps relax your muscles. If our cells have grown resistant to insulin then you won’t be able to store magnesium which leads to blood vessel constriction and increases your blood pressure.

Hypertension is often the result of elevated insulin levels and dietary intervention is a key ingredient to addressing this.

Smoking

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for one’s health but did you know that smoking can quickly increase blood pressure? When you smoke you tax your heart. Do everything you can to quit now.

Obesity

According to various studies, almost two-thirds of those who are obese are at risk of hypertension. Carrying excess weight puts a strain on your heart and circulatory system which can result in high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Elevated uric acid levels

Elevated uric acid levels are another contributing factor to high BP. Those are significantly associated with hypertension. Any program adopted to address high blood pressure needs to help normalize your uric acid levels as well.

Air and sound pollution

Air pollution affects BP by causing inflammation while noise pollution causes this effect on your nervous and hormonal system. Living in an area that has constant noise pollution such as a busy city street has been shown to increase the risk of hypertension by 6% compared to those living where noise levels were 20% lower. Consider using earplugs in your sleep if you live in a noisy neighborhood.

Other risk factors for high blood pressure include poor nutrition in childhood and inactivity.

For more information, see Dr. Kalaba‘s recent video on YouTube.

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