Why Women Might Have High Blood Pressure and Not Even Know It!
Learn a Natural Approach to Lowering Your High Blood Pressure
What is the leading cause of death for women in the United States? The answer is heart disease, which caused one out of every five deaths in women in 2017. Heart disease has long been thought to be a “male” disease. In fact, one out of every 16 women in the United States currently suffers from coronary heart disease, according to the CDC. Women often ignore heart issues because they don’t recognize the symptoms or their symptoms are different from what the “traditional” (read: male) symptoms are.
One of the most common indicators of heart disease is high blood pressure. Many women have high blood pressure and don’t even know it! In this article, I’ll teach you the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure, explain how it contributes to heart disease, and show you what you can do to lower your blood pressure. (Hint: The best treatment is self-care, good nutrition, and some helpful supplements. Funny how that recipe can cure so many of our ills!)
What Is High Blood Pressure?
According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is when “the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels is consistently too high.” Your brain, muscles, and organs need oxygen in order to function. Your lungs pull oxygen into your body, and then it is up to your heart to push oxygenated blood throughout your circulatory system.
The heart is a wondrous muscle that works day and night to keep you alive. With each pump, it uses systolic pressure and diastolic pressure to push through a huge network of blood vessels, which are made up of arteries, veins, and capillaries.
High blood pressure means that your heart has to work harder to push blood throughout your body. The friction caused by this pressure can actually damage the delicate walls inside your blood vessels. Over time, cholesterol (made from “bad” LDL cholesterol) sticks into these tears and hardens into plaque. As these plaques grow, your blood vessels become narrower and narrower forcing your heart to work even harder to force blood through, causing your blood pressure to rise even further.
It’s a destructive cycle that can lead to all sorts of health calamities.
The Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Heart disease is often called “the silent killer,” because many women don’t even realize they have high blood pressure or heart disease. Just because you don’t have symptoms of high blood pressure doesn’t mean you are healthy! Make sure to check your blood pressure regularly.
Symptoms of high blood pressure include:
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Vision disturbances
- Irregular heartbeat
The Dangers of High Blood Pressure
When plaque starts to clog your blood vessels, this is a condition known as atherosclerosis. You may begin to feel pain or discomfort in your chest, arms, or jaw. As more plaque builds up, it could cut off blood supply to your heart, causing a heart attack. Alternatively, if the plaque blocks blood from oxygenating your brain, this could lead to a stroke.
None of these scenarios is what we want, which is why I wanted to focus this article on high blood pressure. High blood pressure is an important warning sign that heart disease is on the way.
Don’t Wait, Check Your Blood Pressure Now
The world can feel chaotic right now, and the last place you may want to visit is your doctor’s office, but it’s incredibly important to measure your blood pressure and to monitor it over time. If you don’t feel comfortable visiting your doctor’s office, consider buying a low-cost blood pressure test that you can use at home. When the coronavirus threat is over in the future (someday!), you can also visit many drugstore pharmacies for a free blood pressure test.
According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg or lower. That means your systolic pressure (when the heart pumps blood into the body) should be no higher than 120 and your diastolic pressure (the amount of pressure when the heart rests between beats) should be no higher than 80.
The American Heart Association considers your blood pressure “elevated” if it reaches levels of between 120/80 and 129/80. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is between 130/80 to 139/89. Stage 2 hypertension occurs when your systolic pressure is 140 or higher OR your diastolic pressure is 90 or higher.
If your blood pressure is at anything other than normal, then it’s time to start working today to lower your blood pressure. Don’t worry, you can heal your heart, and the best remedies for hypertension are also the remedies for a happier and healthier life overall.
A Neuropathic Treatment Plan for High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, I strongly recommend that you see your primary care physician or a cardiologist. While my focus will always be on holistic and natural healing methods, my treatments can also work together with traditional medicine to address your high blood pressure.
Focus on Your Diet
Some women are at a greater risk of high blood pressure and heart disease due to their genes. There’s nothing you can do about that. What you can control, however, is what you eat on a day-to-day basis. While sugars, fats, and salts can be amazingly comforting, especially in the wake of 2020, they can also lead to high blood pressure.
To start, begin cutting out unhealthy saturated and trans fats in your diet. Unhealthy fats include:
- Anything fried
- Processed meats (like hot dogs, fast food burgers, and deli meats)
- Desserts that include gluten
- Certain plant oils, like palm oil
Replace these unhealthy fats with healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. Good fats are delicious and filling. Some of my favorites are:
- Most kinds of nuts, which make an amazing mid-day snack
- Seeds (like flax and sunflower)
- Healthy plant oils (olive oil, sesame oil)
- Beans and legumes
Next, begin reducing sugar from your diet. This is easiest done by simply getting rid of most of the processed foods in your life. Sugar also has a sneaky way of hiding in drinks. Throw out soft drinks, which are filled with sugars, as well as sports drinks, and processed desserts. Cut back on alcohol and limit fruit juice, which has a high concentration of sugar.
Switch out fruit juice with raw fruit. Swap coffee for tea and make it a habit to drink water throughout the day.
Finally, let’s talk about salt. You actually need salt to survive, but the average US resident consumes far too much sodium, which can spike your blood pressure. Most processed foods as well as fast foods include too much salt. Try to buy low-sodium soups and replace salt with herbs and spices to flavor your food.
Overall, if you simply cook more at home and use lean meats, vegetables, and low-glycemic grains, you will likely lower your blood pressure in the process.
It’s Time to Exercise
If you’ve ever wished for a magic pill that can improve your health, melt away the pounds, and increase your happiness, you’ve had the secret this whole time. Exercise! Consistent cardiovascular exercise will increase the strength of your heart and help prevent dangerous plaques from forming.
While The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends a minimum of 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous exercise per week for adults, do what you can. If you’ve been sedentary for a while, start with an easy stroll around your neighborhood. (I know it’s cold in many parts of the country, but don’t use that as an excuse).
YouTube and other platforms are filled with free, at-home workout sessions you can enjoy, from high-intensity interval (HIIT) exercise to soothing yoga sessions. The key is to move multiple times a week. That can be as simple as taking short breaks during your workday to walk around your house. You may even want to invest in a personal trainer or a virtual personal trainer.
Over time, I encourage you to push yourself a little more. If that walk around the neighborhood becomes easy, try jogging instead. Add weights to your HIIT workouts. Try an intermediate yoga session. You can do it. I can tell you that even when exercising is the last thing I want to do, I’m always glad I made the effort by the end of the session.
Relax with Mindfulness
Let your stress and worries go. I know that can seem like a tall order, especially right now, but release all those things that are out of your circle of control. You can’t make our politicians get along or disappear the traffic on the highway. You can make a commitment to live a more mindful life, show more gratitude, and work to repair or strengthen your most important relationships.
Chronic stress is a big cause of high blood pressure. Don’t harm yourself with stress. Instead, treat yourself like the amazing, wonderful person you are. Give yourself the love you deserve. I recommend looking into meditation, mindfulness, breathing, and yoga.
There are so many great resources if you want to try any of these relaxation techniques. Download a free meditation app or commit to three sessions of 10-minute mindfulness each day. It may seem a little awkward at first, but it really works. You’ll feel more relaxed and happy and be a better version of yourself. Take a look at 14 free and low-cost relaxation apps reviewed by Kaiser Permanente.
Take Supplements to Reduce Blood Pressure
Just to reiterate, I encourage you to work with your doctor to create a treatment plan for high blood pressure. However, certain supplements may help improve your treatment results.
My favorite supplements to help lower blood pressure and support heart health are vitamin C and garlic. A 2020 review found that vitamin C supplements dramatically reduced blood pressure in research subjects. Garlic includes allicin, which is believed to widen blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure.
Of course, each person is different, so the best blood pressure treatment will vary from patient to patient. Some patients may need to focus more on diet while others will need to spend more time building up habits to reduce stress. Still other women may be suffering from thyroid issues and autoimmune disorders, which can aggravate high blood pressure.
If you would like a customized, holistic plan, schedule a Clarity Call with me. I can’t wait to meet you and to discuss your path to recovery.