Categories: Chronic Diseases8.3 min read

by Stephen Luther, M.D.


A Stronger Lifestyle May Lower Blood Pressure

Knowledge and Strength to Fight Hypertension

An elevation in blood pressure (BP) is like a punch in the boxing ring that sends alarms racing through your body. How quickly you recover and regain normal BP depends on the severity and your cardiovascular fitness. Did you know your lifestyle is a leading contender in managing BP?

Live well and win the fight for good health by recognizing, understanding, and learning more about the causes and risks of high blood pressure, known as hypertension, which affects millions worldwide. Your BP’s vital role in your brain and heart health makes it one of Symbios’ first vital signs examined for wellness; therefore, we encourage you to punch back with these valuable insights that ensure your lifestyle bolsters your ideal BP.

Understanding Hypertension

Blood pressure measures the force of the blood against the walls of your blood vessels (arteries) as your heart pumps blood through your body. High blood pressure is often symptomless, making it essential to monitor it regularly. An average acceptable reading is 120/80 mm Hg. (mm = millimeter of mercury per height, as in barometric force).

The systolic number is first and carries more weight when predicting risks since it checks the pressure in your arteries during a heartbeat (the heart muscle’s contraction that squeezes out blood). The diastolic is the second number, focusing on your heart’s rest, thus measuring the lower pressure in your arteries between heartbeats.

Hypertension is diagnosed when your blood pressure consistently reads 130/80 mm Hg or higher. In its silent menace, untreated high blood pressure can increase pressure on artery walls.

Why is too much pressure harmful? Picture a river surging at flood level. The high water forcefully hits and ravages the sides lining the river. Over time, extra pressure can damage the walls of your blood vessels, like the once-smooth riverbank. This damage causes hardening of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, and may lead to the following severe health complications:

  • Heart disease is often caused by the strain high blood pressure puts on the heart. As the heart muscle thickens, less oxygen reaches the heart, forcing it to work harder. Hypertensive heart disease can cause heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Strokes may occur in two different ways from hypertension. 87% are ischemic strokes, resulting from the damaged lining of blood vessels becoming narrow or clogged, thus restricting blood flow to brain cells. The other 13% of strokes are hemorrhagic strokes, occurring when high blood pressure strains a blood vessel near or in the brain, causing it to rupture.
  • Kidney damage occurs when high blood pressure constricts blood flow, inhibiting the kidney’s proper filtration of ½ cup of blood every minute. Inflammation is caused by excess fluid (edema), and unremoved fluid and waste in your body’s blood vessels can cause the blood pressure to rise higher. This dangerous cycle can be detected at Symbios Lab with a blood test called glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and a urine test that checks for albumin, a protein occurring with kidney damage.
  • Vision problems may develop in three forms from hypertension. Retinopathy forms from a lack of blood flow from damaged blood vessels to the eye, potentially causing vision loss or blindness. Choroidopathy occurs with excess fluid building up under the retina, thus distorting vision. Optic neuropathy is nerve damage from blocked blood flow to the optic nerve. Vision loss, temporary or permanent, results from the damaged nerve cells in your eyes.

Lower Your Risk Factors and Lower Your Blood Pressure

You may inherit an elevated tendency toward hypertension from genetics. However, many controllable lifestyle factors can reduce your risk of high blood pressure. Symbios recommends five transformative remedies:

1. Exercise, including strength training: A stronger heart can pump the same amount of blood more efficiently to maintain a healthy blood pressure. However, before starting any exercise, seek a doctor’s approval because any strain on the heart can cause BP to rise. Consider using a qualified trainer to avoid injury and achieve healthy results faster.

Dr. Stephen Luther is often asked, “What is the best type of exercise?” His reply is always “functional fitness.” Why? Cardiovascular health requires movement and resistance; therefore, functional fitness training is a favorable contender in the ring to battle high blood pressure. Resistance training (also referred to as strength training or weightlifting) involves activities that make your muscles work against a force, such as lifting weights or using resistance bands. Functional fitness at SymbiosFIT challenges all fitness levels by utilizing progressive overload with cardio and resistance, raising your heartbeat, and conditioning your heart.

Symbios recommends physical activity that includes functional fitness three to five times per week, preferably monitored by a certified trainer. Consistent physical conditioning increases muscle mass while decreasing fat, allowing each heart pump to deliver oxygen and nutrients through the blood more efficiently to achieve the following:

  • Improved vascular function: The flexibility and function of blood vessels are crucial for blood pressure regulation since stiff and narrow arteries may cause hypertension.
  • Reduce resting pulse: Raising your heartbeat during exercise produces a stronger, more effective pump, producing a lower resting pulse and blood pressure with less strain on your heart.
  • Long-term results: While your blood pressure may not be immediately lowered during a workout, a regular quality exercise regimen can have lasting cardiovascular benefits.
  • Lower stress: Exercise is proven to work off stress, which lowers blood pressure. Physical activity encourages the release of endorphins, hormones that promote a sense of well-being, leaving you with less tension and anxiety.

2. Weight management: Maintaining a healthy weight is a lifestyle choice that can influence your blood pressure. Imagine the standard engine of an overloaded Volkswagen bug with a hefty roof rack attempting to pull a heavy cargo trailer uphill. If you are overweight, think of your heart as that small engine straining to pump blood through your oversized body and the extra effort required to move.

Thankfully, you can adjust the load your heart carries, and with every 2.2 pounds of weight loss, blood pressure is typically lowered by 1 mm Hg. Symbios recognizes the complexity of body composition and encourages you to strive for a healthy weight by considering the following:

  • Body mass index, BMI, over 25 may increase your likelihood of hypertension. BMI is your weight divided by the square of your height; you can easily calculate your BMI. For most people, a healthy goal is a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9.
  • Basal metabolic rate is the number of calories you burn at rest. Weightlifting and resistance training build lean muscle mass; muscle burns more calories than fat, which boosts your basal metabolic rate.
  • Aerobic exercise or cardio workouts such as jogging, rowing, or cycling are suitable short-term methods for burning calories. Symbios recommends bursts of aerobic activities combined with resistance training for positive long-term results in managing weight.

3. Nutrition choices: The age-old phrase you are what you eat holds value! Symbios encourages a diet that fills your nutritional needs without overflowing with calories, toxins, and chemicals. Your food choices are your body’s fuel. To elevate your health and diminish your threat of high blood pressure, consider the following:

  • Eliminate processed foods, seed oils, and refined carbohydrates by looking to nature for whole foods. Jean Magarelli, RN, a trained Nutrition Network practitioner, is passionate about sharing her knowledge on dangerous food additives and recommending fresh choices.
  • Eat calories that count rather than counting calories. Weigh in on the essential amino acids from proteins, fatty acids from fats, and necessary vitamins and minerals you need to choose the quantity and quality of your diet.
  • Metabolic health affects your weight as your body breaks down and stores unused energy from carbs as fat. Talk to Symbios Nutrition to meet your unique goals while making the complexity of healthy meal planning simple.

4. Reduce chronic stress: Stress is the body’s natural response to perceived threats, triggering a hormonal surge of adrenaline and cortisol. While this response is normal, if stress becomes a daily companion, a cascading wave of negative consequences may develop, such as:

  • An Increased heart rate results from stress hormones, which can temporarily raise your blood pressure. Over time, this can strain your cardiovascular system.
  • Blood vessel constriction from stress makes it harder for blood to flow through them. This can result in higher blood pressure readings.
  • Inflammation in your body can be caused by stress. Inflammation can increase your risk of hypertension by damaging blood vessels and leading to atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the arteries.

Symbios encourages exercise as a natural and potent form of stress reduction. Additional approaches to curtail your daily troubles may include relaxation tactics such as yoga or breathing exercises, planned distraction activities, fresh air, adequate sleep, or balancing hormones. By decreasing stress, you can remove lifestyle burdens that turn into hypertension.

5. Stop smoking and limit alcohol: Breaking habits can be challenging but medically necessary. If you are struggling, please seek professional help, such as the caring guidance available from Symbios.

  • Cigarette smoking acutely exerts a hypertensive effect, stimulating the sympathetic nervous system and causing BP to rise. Nicotine causes the release of catecholamine and possibly vasopressin, which function as adrenergic, thus linking it to malignant hypertension.
  • Alcohol initially decreases blood pressure, increases heart rate up to 12 to 24 hours after consumption, and disrupts sleep, raising the chance of high blood pressure over time.

A stronger lifestyle is often victorious for long-term cardiovascular health and overall wellness by knocking out variables that may cause high blood pressure. Symbios can skillfully evaluate and treat your unique healthcare needs while considering risk factors from preexisting conditions or genetics.

Our team would welcome the opportunity to help you manage your blood pressure with personalized fitness plans, nutritional guidancelab work, and as-needed medication. Are you ready to experience your best health? Have you had your vitals checked recently? Has a physician determined you can start exercising? Do you have questions regarding your blood pressure? Call Symbios at 843.738.4800 to schedule an appointment today.


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