New Blood Pressure guidelines recently released by the American Heart Association and The American College of Cardiology has defined high blood pressure as 130/80 or greater. It is estimated that men under the age of 45 years old who will be told they have high blood pressure will triple and for women under 45 years old will double. So, I ask you, How High is Your Pressure?
Normal Blood Pressure is defined as 120/80 which is a measurement of the speed or force your blood is flowing through your blood vessels. The thing about High Blood Pressure is over an extended amount of time if allowed to go untreated, will increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
To understand the impact of High Blood Pressure on the body think of your Blood Vessels as a Garden Water Hose. Note the higher you turn the facet on the higher the force or pressure of the water flows out of the hose and at its maximum level you will get an even higher water pressure flowing through the hose. Keep this in mind as we proceed.
Let’s Talk: your body is composed of approximately 65% water of course that will vary with individuals but not much this is the norm, however the water pressure flowing through your blood vessels (water hose) is steady and maintained by a renin-angiotensin aldosterone system operated by the Kidneys. High Blood Pressure occurs when the body fluids flowing through the blood vessels is increased due to various reasons. Per recent research, pertaining to African Americans one of those reasons is known as “Salt Sensitivity”, a condition where consumption of foods high in Sodium tends to hold Sodium in our bodies for a prolong period.
Think about it: when you eat a bag of chips or foods high in salt, do you not get thirsty?
The same reaction occurs in the body. Sodium tends to hold onto water in the body. Normally the kidney releases the excess water through the process of urination thus maintaining a normal steady pressure flowing through the vessels. However, as African Americans most, but not all, due to a “variation” in the renin-angiotensin aldosterone system our bodies do not release the sodium as it should be resulting in an increase or build- up of fluids flowing through our vessels (remember the garden hose effect), this is known as high blood pressure.
In summary when diagnosed with high blood pressure physicians will recommend a “Low Salt Diet” approximately 2 grams per day for good reason. The Dash Diet is most often recommended to assist with the treatment of High Blood Pressure along with other Life Style Modifications, more to come regarding the DASH DIET.