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Everyone has blood pressure

Health advice

POSTED: August 2, 2007 5:02 a.m.
I recently met a woman from South Carolina who told me all about her health problems.
I listened attentively and made no comment about my occupation. But it became hard not to interrupt her, especially since she had so many misconceptions about her health.
When the opportunity arose, I tried to gently correct some of her misconceptions but she was convinced of her own wisdom and I gave up.
This situation was really hard, especially since she told me five times her blood pressure was keeping her from losing weight and she was unable to do anything around the house because she was afraid it would make her veins burst.
I thought about talking with her daughter-in-law and husband but I got the impression she was “boss” and decided to save my “words of wisdom” for someone less temperamental who understood that everyone has a blood pressure.
Without a blood pressure, blood couldn’t circulate through the body to carry oxygen and food to our vital organs so they can work properly.
I wanted to explain to her that it’s important to know the truth about blood pressure and how to keep it at a healthy level. Doing nothing all day doesn’t help your blood pressure. Also, physical work cannot cause your veins to burst open.  
Getting out of work simply because you don’t like to do it isn’t really smart for anyone. You are simply “deep-sixing” yourself.
Over time, you make your body less capable of performing routine functions. Our heart and circulatory system (blood pressure) — like the muscles in our arms — lose tone, flexibility and endurance without exercise.
If we don’t require that our body (and heart) function, it eventually becomes difficult to breathe and move when we need to do simple things like walk a little farther or do a little more than we’ve gotten accustomed to doing.
When we’re healthy, our arteries are muscular and elastic. They stretch when our heart pumps. How much they stretch depends on how much force the blood exerts. A healthy lifestyle makes a healthy body and improves our circulation.
A healthy lifestyle means we eat right, eliminate (or limit) things that put us at risk for disease (such as tobacco and alcohol), we try to limit stress, we get sufficient rest and exercise. These are things that are known to limit our risk for disease and that make us feel fit and well.
When our heart beats, it pumps blood to the arteries and creates pressure. This pressure results from two forces. The first force is created as blood pumps into the arteries and through the circulatory system. The second is created as the arteries resist the blood flow.
If our heart beats 60-80 times a minute under normal conditions, our blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when the heart relaxes. A person’s blood pressure can change from minute to minute. This happens when we change our posture, exercise or sleep.
Ideally, blood pressure should be less than 120/80 for an adult. Blood pressure that stays between 120-139/80-89 is considered pre-hypertension and 140/90 or higher is considered high. These are things we all need to know.
We should also know that exercise can bring our blood pressure down, as can losing weight — even five pounds can make a difference — and limiting salt and foods high in salt can be very important.
Some people are particularly sensitive to salt, and eating foods such as ham, French fries and some canned foods can make a big difference in the level of their blood pressure. These are simple things that can make a difference, but if you suspect you have high blood pressure, you need to see your healthcare provider.  
Letting blood pressure go unchecked is dangerous. Untreated hypertension can cause strokes and other health problems and people die from these kinds of problems.
Know about your body, any diseases you have and what you can do to help your body age gracefully. Ask questions if you don’t understand and make your health a priority. Who knows, we may get in a conversation one day and you may share something I don’t know or you could share your wisdom with a friend and make a difference in their life. But first, make a difference in your own life.
 

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