Hypertension or high blood pressure is scary stuff. But at the same time, it’s the number one treatable risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. So why are 25 percent of emergency room visits from hypertensive patients?
70 million American adults suffer with high blood pressure, and according to Candace McNaughton, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and one of the researchers of a new study that highlights how common—and growing—a problem hypertension is, “Hypertension-related emergency room visits have gone up more than 20 percent since 2006″
One of the factors bringing these patients to the ER is insurance-related.
“Emergency department visits for patients with a primary diagnosis of hypertension were more likely among patients who were younger and less likely to have private health insurance,” McNaughton added.
For patients without adequate insurance, no matter the health problem, an emergency room visit is often their only way to get care. But the best way to avoid hypertension can be much less costly financially—and physically.
According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors are unable to find the specific cause of high blood pressure in 85 percent to 95 percent of hypertension patients. Obscuring the search is high blood pressure’s genetic component as well as a number of other factors.
But the bottom line is that most people unwittingly lead a lifestyle that perpetuates their hypertension.
Lifestyle choices play a major role in the development of hypertension over the course of your life. So you have the ability, through actions and choices, to reverse and prevent this potentially life-threatening condition. An ounce of prevention now could save you tons in hospital and doctor bills.
Some of the biggest contributors to hypertension that you can avoid are:
- Smoking: The nicotine in tobacco smoke directly stimulates atherosclerosis formation; decreases oxygen to the heart, causing a reflex increased pressure; and triggers vasospasm (smooth muscle contraction).
- High salt in your diet: If you are salt-sensitive, consuming too much salt increases your blood pressure. You know you are sensitive if you swell up or if your blood pressure increases when you eat salty food. Common table salt is made up of 97.5 percent sodium chloride and about 2.5 percent chemicals from processing. It is not your healthiest salt choice. Sea salts can be only 84 percent sodium chloride and 16 percent mineral electrolytes, including potassium, magnesium, calcium and other nutrients. Therefore, it can be used differently by your body. Reportedly, natural sea salts don’t cause swelling like sodium chloride does.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Not exercising regularly contributes to obesity and inflammatory mediators that trigger high blood pressure. The heart weakens, and the blood vessels become less flexible and resilient.
- Alcohol consumption: Not only heavy consumption, but also moderate consumption over time increases blood pressure, according to studies.
Supplements shown to reduce high blood pressure
There are some supplements that may help lower blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. It’s important to note that research shows most of these supplements work to lower blood pressure by small amounts. However, little improvements can still add up to make a big impact.
- Garlic has long been touted for its ability to improve heart health, including lowering blood pressure. Garlic extract, found in health-food stores and online, may work best.
- Magnesium can lower blood pressure, as well as help manage an irregular heartbeat.
- Hibiscus has been used for centuries by traditional medical practitioners for a variety of ailments. New research is showing it can have a positive impact on blood pressure.
- Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower blood pressure, as well triglycerides. They are found in cold water fatty fish like salmon and sardines, as well as in chia and flax seeds, walnuts and other sources.
- CoQ10 is shown in studies to be effective in lowering blood pressure. There’s also some evidence that CoQ10 deficiency can cause hypertension.
But the important thing to remember is that you’re not making changes simply to combat hypertension. Rather, you’re adopting approaches that will benefit overall health and long term vitality. In other words, a nutrient-dense diet and targeted supplements, together with exercise and a healthy stress reduction program, offers numerous life-long benefits. In the process, you can reduce the health risks posed by elevated blood pressure. You can also reduce your healthcare costs.