A common, quiet problem
Though high blood pressure generally causes no symptoms and is not fatal on its own, it can lead to a number of serious medical problems. Hypertension is a major factor in 348,000 deaths each year in America, contributing to heart attacks and strokes, among other conditions. Recipients of skilled nursing care likely have their blood pressure monitored, but for others it's important to have it checked during visits to the doctor's office.
The condition can arise in one of two ways. Primary hypertension develops over the course of years as a gradual increase in blood pressure. Medical professionals do not know what causes primary hypertension. Secondary hypertension develops much more rapidly and generally raises blood pressure more than primary hypertension. This condition can result from a number of other issues, such as problems with the adrenal gland, thyroid, blood vessels or kidneys. Use of medications, alcohol and other drugs can also bring the condition on.
Best lifestyle practices
Though risk factors such as age and kidney disease are beyond anyone's control, some behavior adjustments can reduce the risk of developing hypertension. Sedentary lifestyle is one of the main contributors to high blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic. Residents in senior communities who do fewer of their own errands and physical chores should be especially careful to keep active. People who don't get enough exercise have higher heart rates, forcing the heart to work harder and increasing the impact on arteries. Lack of exercise also leads to obesity, which is another risk factor for hypertension. Overweight people require higher blood flow, which also increases strain on arteries.
Diet can go a long way toward reducing blood pressure and the obesity risk factor. Probably the most commonly known dietary contributor to hypertension is salt. According to the American Heart Association, the average person eats twice as much sodium as they should every day. The AHA estimates that high blood pressure would drop 26 percent if sodium intake was cut to recommended levels. Meals provided by retirement communities may be nutritionally balanced, but anyone preparing their own food should take notice of these two nutrients.
Eating more potassium, on the other hand, can help to cut blood pressure. The mineral reduces stress on blood vessels and also helps the body eliminate sodium, dropping hypertension risk further. Fruits, fish, greens and sweet potatoes are among the foods recommended for their high potassium. Eating more of these and fewer processed foods will bump potassium while knocking out sodium.
Cutting down on tobacco and alcohol are also good steps toward reducing blood pressure. Smoking or chewing tobacco raises blood pressure in the short term and damages arteries. It should be cut out completely, or at least reduced. Alcohol is less dangerous in moderation, but more than two drinks per day for men or one for women can cause heart damage and increase blood pressure. The two drugs are commonly used to reduce stress, which is itself associated with hypertension. Better anxiety solutions are exercise and meditation.
By Megan Ray on June 20, 2014 of Sunrise Assisted Living