I wanted to dive into your blood pressure question. Because mostly, I’m a nerd
Why is blood pressure important?
It can turn your life expectancy from 76 years old, to 55 years old, with a small difference in blood pressure.
A 35 year old with a blood pressure of 120/80 will live on average 76 years.
A 35 year old with a blood pressure of 151/91 will live on average 55 years.
If you want more data, let me know. But that’s an important piece.
What is blood pressure?
This is usually how blood pressure is described.
The first number above is called your systolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure of your blood vessel walls when your heart contracts and blood pumps through them.
The second number above is the diastolic. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure of your blood against your vessel walls when your heart is relaxed.
In reference to a garden hose, your blood vessels work similarly. When you turn your water on, the hose fills up and there is pressure against the hose casing. We call this systolic blood pressure. When you turn off the hose, there is still water in the hose but there is no pressure pumping through. Similarly, when your blood isn’t actively being pumped, your diastolic blood pressure is noted by the pressure of your blood against the vessel walls at rest. I hope that makes sense.
High blood pressure is another beast. Imagine plugging your garden hose up to a fire hydrant. With the extra pressure of water pumping through, it’s causing a bunch of strain on your hose. And eventually, it could burst. Same thing can happen in your body. If there’s too much strain in your eye, you go blind. If there’s too much strain in your heart, it’s a heart attack. If there’s too much strain close to your brain, you could develop dementia or ALS. A lot of potential outcomes that don’t sound too appealing from my side.
What do I want my blood pressure to be?
Healthy range:Less than 120/80
Prehypertension:120-129 / 80
High Blood pressure Stage 1:130-139 / 80-89
High blood pressure stage 2:>140 / 90+
What impacts blood pressure?
Sex, age, ethinc background, nutrition, dietary norms. A lifestyle and genetics are super important.
Million dollar Question: How do I lower my blood pressure?
1. Get lean and stay lean. With excess bodyfat comes more need to supply blood to fatty tissue. Even so, with excess bodyfat, your body will increase inflammatory markers that actually cause your vessel walls to remain stiff.
2. Get moving and stay moving. I’ve read some studies showing that exercise and moderate intensity activity up to five hours per week can drastically change your blood pressure. WIth that said, a bout of exercise can decrease your blood pressure by 5 mmhg, which reduces all cause mortality by 7%.
3. Reduce booze consumption and stop smoking. A single glass of red wine can help (women moreso than men). But in general, keeping it away will do your body good.
4. Improve nutrition. Diets built around plant based and whole, unprocessed meals are particularly effective. Some recommended actions to take from a nutrition standpoint:
– 1-2 Low fat dairy items/day
– Eat plenty of lean protein to curb insulin
– Eat 3 servings of intact whole grains daily
– Get enough vitamin D (get outside or supplement)
– Balance fat intake – Omega 3s are king!
– Cut sugar – makes you fat when you eat too much. Eating lots of added sugars may also activate the sympathetic nervous system, decrease urinary sodium excretion, increase sodium absorption in the GI tract, and decrease blood vessel nitric oxide. Not good.
– Cut sodium intake. Don’t worry too much about salt. It mostly comes from processed garbage when we eat out. In most cases, we actually need a certain amount to be healthy. So when you eat at home, sprinkle a little on, and don’t feel bad about it. But when you eat that processed good stuff, you know it’s coming at a cost.