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Effective Ways to Help Lower Hypertension

lower hypertension

According to the American Heart Association, one in three Americans has hypertension, with a third of those not knowing they have it. High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder than needed and hardens the arterial walls. Hypertension can increase the risk for heart attack and stroke, which are the number one and three primary causes of death in the United States respectively. It can also lead to heart failure, kidney failure and blindness. High blood pressure can lack symptoms so many don’t know that they have it. The only way to find out is to have one’s blood pressure checked regularly. Luckily there are simple lifestyle changes that can help prevent or control hypertension.

Diet

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s DASH diet, is a good model to follow. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The diet basically is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, magnesium and potassium, which are all important for arterial health. Specific fruits and vegetables such as canteloupes, prunes, raisins, bananas and potatoes are especially high in potassium. Potassium helps regulate the body’s fluid and salt levels. This, in conjunction with decreasing salt intake to no more than 1500mg a day, can effectively lower blood pressure readings by 10 points. Other foods that help lower hypertension include oatmeal, soy, and dark chocolate. Some Vitamins and supplements that may aid in lowering blood pressure include magnesium, fish-oil supplements, garlic and hawthorn. Dosages and efficacy may vary from individual to individual. Checking with one’s physician prior to taking these supplements is a must.

Lifestyle changes

There are several life-style changes that can help reduce hypertension. These include limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, exercise and decreasing stress.

In some, alcohol raises blood pressure and heavy drinkers tend to have hypertension. Alcohol consumption should be limited to a drink a day. Smoking should be eliminated completely. Tobacco can include elements and compounds that contribute to the hardening of the arteries and the nicotine in cigarettes can cause blood vessels to contract, increasing the risks associated with high blood pressure.

Brisk exercise, consisting of thirty minutes a day, several times a week can help lower overall blood pressure. Although exercise can temporarily increase blood pressure during the activity, it does help lower overall resting blood pressure greatly. In addition, exercise promotes weight loss, reducing the amount of work that the heart has to perform. Checking with one’s physician prior to implementation of an exercise program is advised.

Stress can increase heart rate, which can lead to hypertension. Relaxation techniques and biofeedback methods are helpful to combat stress. These may include meditation, mind-body exercises, stress reduction training and things as simple as becoming involved with a hobby or getting a pet.

The numbers

Blood pressure consists of two numbers. The top number, systolic pressure measures blood flow at its highest pressure when the heart beats, while the lower number, diastolic pressure, measures blood flow when the heart is at rest. Although both numbers are important, the diastolic pressure reading is the one that concerns the most, because high pressure at rest can only go up when exertion is applied. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute maintains that a blood pressure of 120/80mg or lower is normal. Readings of 140/90mg or higher can indicate hypertension. It’s important to get checked regularly, not only by a physician, but also occasionally at home, by taking one’s own blood pressure.

High blood pressure is a silent killer. Regular checkups and home monitoring can diagnose this problem. Changes in lifestyle and diet can help control or lower hypertension. Consultation with one’s physician is necessary prior to exercise programs, vitamin supplement ingestion and the prescription of medications, if indicated.

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Over-Sanitization and Its Impact on Health & the Environment

When the H1N1 pandemic struck, health authorities encouraged the use of hand sanitizers and disinfectant spray in an attempt to stem the outbreak. But while there is nothing wrong with the use of sanitizing products per se, too many people might have taken the way advice too far.

over-sanitization

Prevalence of Triclosan and Triclocarban in the Environment

Triclosan and triclocarban are two chemicals commonly used in many household cleaning products and in disinfectants – otherwise known as antimicrobials. In sufficient amounts, these two chemicals are known to cause among other things skin irritation, allergy susceptibility, bacterial and endocrine disruption.

These chemicals do not break down easily once it is washed down the drain. Traces of triclosan have been found in many of the waterways in the United States and even downstream from water treatment plants. This resilience to treatment is cause for great concern because once exposed to sunlight and water, triclosan could change into a toxin called dioxin.

High concentrations of dioxin can cause skin lesions and even alter liver functions. Long term effects of dioxin exposure could cause problems with the immune, nervous, endocrine and reproductive systems in the body. It is no accident that the majority of disinfectants have a warning label disclaiming the toxicity not mentioned in the commercials.

Don't Overuse Hand Sterilizers

Hand sanitizers that use an ethanol or alcohol base, are an effective means of reducing bacteria count on hands. However, only those with ethanol or alcohol concentrations of at least 62% are of any significant use. The effectiveness of sanitizers with anything less are comparable to washing with just plain water.

Alcohol and ethanol chemically denature proteins. Denaturing occurs when a protein is subject to outside chemical or temperature stresses. Frying an egg on a pan is an example of heat-based denaturing. Exactly like how lime juice "cooks" a piece of salmon, alcohol and ethanol literally cooks bacteria off by denaturing the protein found in all bacteria.

Great care must be taken when choosing hand sanitizers. While most commercial hand sanitizers incorporate moisturizers, some do not. Originally used by medical personnel to sterilize their hands between patients, hand sanitizers without a moisturizing component can cause excessive dryness and, in extreme cases, dermititis, or commonly known as rashes.

Over-Sanitization on Children

The risk is even greater for young children. According to a guide by the Department of Health and Senior Services in the State of Missouri:
All sanitizers are classified as a pesticide. If the wrong product is used, or is mixed too strong, it could be toxic to children. Young children absorb chemicals into their bodies easier than older children and adults. Because of their small body size, a small amount of any chemical has a much greater affect on them than adults.

Understandably, home makers want to ensure that their households are clean and free from bacteria. But it seems that the cure could be more dangerous than the problem.

Furthermore, in the effort to achieve new heights of clinical sterility, children are developing weaker and weaker immune systems. Because their bodies are not given the chance to come into contact with as many types of bacteria, their immune systems become under-developed and weak. Weak immune systems translate into more illnesses later in life when they leave their sterile environment.

Back to the Basics of Cleanliness

But no one is suggesting a spit and polish approach to house cleaning either. Not that it is inherently bad to use sanitizing products but moderation is key here. Soap and warm water is still an effective means of removing a vast majority of bacteria harmful to health. There is no need to perforate every inch of the house with disinfectant to stay healthy.

And while hand sanitizers are a convenient means of cleaning hands in the absence of soap and water, they are not a substitute. Hand sanitizers were originally intended to eliminate the chance of cross-contamination in hospitals where the patients either have weak or no immune defences. Instead of using obsessively using hand sanitizers, simply practice the recommended steps of safe hygiene like sneezing into elbows (instead of the hand) or staying home when sick.

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Methods to Avoid Catching Colds


As much as possible, avoid coming into close contact with infected persons, especially if they cough or sneeze. A person with a cold is very contagious: a person fills the air with fine particles of saliva or mucous which transport the virus microbe. Even if the person is cautious to wipe his nose with tissue or a handkerchief, the microbes will be transported to his hands.

And studies have shown that these viruses are transmitted through hand contact. So if you have to shake hands with somebody who has a cold, you would better wash soon after It is useless to take antibiotics: they have no effect on viruses.

Alcohol

However, there are certain substances found in alcohol which help decongest sinuses, that is why a good hot toddy can work wonders. But take care of your liver: a toddy is just as good with a little rum as with a lot. You don’t have to get drunk to get better. You don’t even have to drink it - just sniff some strong alcohol like cognac or brandy and breathe in the fumes.
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Alcohol Can Improve Brain Function


Alcohol

According to several recent studies alcohol seem to be good for the brain. Even if the immediate effects of alcohol may be the opposite, in the long term researchers found it actually improves mental function.The effects of wine’s polyphenols on cognition are well known, but a new research has looked at the impact of alcohol itself. It reduces hardening of the arteries, thickening of the blood and inflammation, which will improve blood flow to your brain. However the timing and dosage is of major importance. Don’t drink 5 pints before business meeting :)
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