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Tips To Help Reduce High Blood Pressure

Jun 13, 2008
"Keeping just a few pounds off can significantly affect your risk of getting high blood pressure or diabetes," says cardiovascular health expert Lawrence Appel at the John Hopkins School of Medicine. Most Americans don't realize how simple modifications can tack on an extra ten years to their lives.

It was previously assumed that if you had heart attacks and congestive heart failure in your family, then you were doomed and if your genetic slate was clean, then you'd be fine. However, health experts are finding that long hours, high stress and sloppy lifestyle habits are contributing to a rise in patients suffering from hypertension.

Over at the Harvard School of Medicine, researchers have developed a dietary program known as "DASH," an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet includes: 8 grain servings, 5 vegetable servings, 2-3 low fat dairy servings, 1-2 servings of meat, poultry or fish and 5 servings per week of nuts, seeds or beans.

Saturated fats and sugars should be limited and serving sizes generally run 1/2 cup cooked, 1 cup raw or 2 tbsp nuts and seeds. Exercise is crucial! Within just two weeks, the diet already began having an effect on Dr. Gabe Mirkin's patients, with 70% returning to normal blood pressure levels. He says that increasing minerals like magnesium, calcium and potassium had a strong impact, as did limiting fat and sodium. The diet triggers a diuretic effect, much like certain medications that work to "flush the system."

In addition to the DASH Diet, certain "super foods" and supplements give high blood pressure sufferers high hopes for recovery. Several studies show the effectiveness of Q10, a coenzyme that reduces both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as fish oil supplements that pack the body with the necessary omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids it needs to perform better. Traditional Chinese medicine recommends garlic, chestnuts, turnips, honey, Chinese celery, hawthorn berries and mung beans to decrease high blood pressure.

Thirty minutes of moderate-intense exercise at least four days per week is the official 2003 American Heart Association standard for optimal heart health. For people who may not be able to meet strenuous standards, walking for three ten-minute intervals per day is recommended.

Additionally, yoga is a good low-impact exercise that decreases stress and may also help reverse high blood pressure. Many Americans find that treadmills and bicycles are their best allies when it comes to an enjoyable workout they can stick to.
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