If your doctor diagnoses you as having high blood pressure, the first thing he or she will tell you is cut your sodium intake. It happened to me when I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure. In many cases, that may make a major difference, but a new study indicates that a low-sodium diet may not lower blood pressure in everyone. There are other factors to consider, such as overall diet, weight, stress and exercise or lack thereof.
Are you one of the many Americans that have been told they have high blood pressure? You’re not alone, as according to the CDC, 75 million American adults (nearly 25% of the entire US population) have high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risks of heart disease and strokes, the number 1 and 3 top causes of deaths in America. This is why high blood pressure is called the ‘silent killer’. It also costs an estimated $46 billion a year in medical expenses which includes doctor visits, medications, hospital and other healthcare in addition to days missed at work.
As your heart pumps blood through your arteries, it has a force that is exerted against the walls of the arteries. It’s this force that doctors and nurses measure. That pressure in your arteries rises and lowers at certain times of the day. It also increases with physical exertion. There are two pressures measured, one when the heart beats (systolic) and the other when the heart relaxes between beats (diastolic).
Most medical experts consider blood pressures ranging from 90/60 to 120/80 as normal blood pressure. Pressures measuring just over 120/80 to 140/90 are considered pre-high blood pressure and anything over 140/90 is considered high blood pressure. Under normal circumstances, it’s not unusual to see high blood pressure readings after exercising or working hard, but if it stays high, then it’s something to worry about…
This doesn’t mean that you can just go out and ignore your doctor’s recommendation and start eating bags of salty popcorn or chips. Like the study says, lowering sodium does affect the blood pressure many, and lowering sodium intake dose work for many – it worked for me, but then I also went on a strict diet, lost weight and started exercising. Please, always check with your doctor because high blood pressure is called the silent killer for a very good reason.