Step Back and Reassess: Blood Pressure Woes
In February, my doctor decided I should have a complete physical. I hadn’t had one…ever, so she thought it would be a great idea to start now with a baseline. She ran a few blood tests, FIT test, PAP, ECG and blood pressure. Everything came out normal or above average but the blood pressure reading. 165/100.
“That’s high,” she said. “At that level organs can be damaged and joint health affected.”
With my father, grandfather and grandmother all passing, eventually, from the result of multiple strokes, having elevated blood pressure was not what I wanted, nor was I willing to allow those genes to be expressed! Thankfully, I have a husband with a wealth of knowledge on cardiovascular health!
First things first, I should lose at least five pounds. Now, truth be told, he didn’t tell me that, he’s a little more sensitive than that, he avoided that subject completely. But I know that a five-pound loss can correlate with a couple points in the right direction for my blood pressure. Enough said.
“Potassium and sodium ratios are something you might want to look at,” he suggested. “But I’d also like to see you taking L-arginine, magnesium and being more consistent with your healthy oils and bone building formulas.”
“What do you mean by the ratio?” I asked. My curiosity was piqued, I don’t add salt to my cooking so was unsure what he meant. Was I consuming too much or too little and what did potassium have to do with blood pressure?
“Every heartbeat is triggered by potassium to squeeze blood through your body. It can lower diastolic (lower number) blood pressure by more than 10 points in people with high blood pressure. It can also help lower cholesterol.”
“What about magnesium?” I asked. “How does it work with potassium to lower high blood pressure?”
“Magnesium works with potassium and calcium in lowering blood pressure,” he said. “It regulates the movement of calcium into the smooth muscle cells within the arterial wall. Too much calcium causes the cells to contract, magnesium acts as a calcium channel blocker. It also acts as a muscle relaxant and in conjunction with potassium decreases the potential for dangerous arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats.”
He went on to add that this wonderful mineral also helps lower aldosterone. It is part of a system that can cause kidneys to retain sodium and water. Lower levels of aldosterone can help drop blood pressure. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, which is a good thing for inflamed and dysfunctional arteries. Reduce inflammation, reduce risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
“For you there aren’t any contraindications for upping magnesium intake. You aren’t diabetic, you don’t take diuretics and you don’t drink alcohol. But you do have to be aware of balance between potassium, magnesium and calcium as well as Vitamin K and D.”
Throughout our conversation, he emphasized the importance of balance. I can take medicines and remedies, they’ll definitely help, but it’s also important to be aware of what I’m eating and focusing on foods that are high in blood pressure lowering nutrients.
He narrowed it down to eight daily steps I could take to get my blood pressure down.
1. Eat potassium rich foods like kiwi, bananas, spinach and pistachios.
2. Avoid adding extra salt to your food, and avoid processed foods and condiments that are high in sodium.
3. I walk every morning with the dogs and swim twice a week, so he suggested that I add in a walk in the evening as well.
4. Eat dark chocolate (that’s why I love him!).
5. Consume a medicine specifically balanced for supporting a healthy blood pressure. He has me taking vitamin E and combination of minerals and an amino acid.
6. Develop a Qi Gong routine (Seven Precious Gestures that I modified to included stretching in the water after my swim)
8. Remove any extra stressors that you can. (We now have the trailer parked up Island for a quick getaway by the ocean)
9. Most importantly, I discovered the fizzy water I was consuming had sodium bicarbonate in it. Now I just have alkalinized water in the evening with a lemon wedge instead of the fizzy stuff.
Everyone is different however, and there are extra steps individuals could take that are different from mine based on body type, health status and ability. Make sure you visit Dr. Yim before changing your diet or adding more or any other herbal or medicinal supplements to your regime.
John checked my blood pressure one and a half months after the doctor gave me a good scare. He was happy to say that it was 134/80. Just where I want it.