By: Dr. Scott Kuper
The month of February is an important month for all of our hearts- not just because of Valentine’s Day, but because it is also American Heart Health Month! This tradition was started in 1964 with the purpose of raising awareness of cardiovascular diseases, which includes hypertension, heart attacks, diabetes, stroke, and heart failure.
Hypertension is also referred to as high blood pressure, and is a major risk factor for developing heart disease. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, one out of every three people in this country suffer from hypertension, including two thirds of all individuals over the age of 65. Thankfully, hypertension is considered a “modifiable risk factor.” This means there are measures that can be taken to prevent hypertension from occurring, and to reverse it even if you’ve already been diagnosed!
Blood pressure measures the force of blood flow pressing against the walls of your arteries. Hypertension is the condition of having too much pressure pushing against the arterial walls, which can lead to a number of problems. First, it can cause a weakening of the blood vessels which makes them more prone to rupture. Large ruptures can result in hemorrhagic strokes and aneurysms. Small ruptures can cause big problems too, because the scarring that occurs as small ruptures heal can catch debris such as cholesterol or blood cells as they travel through your bloodstream. Collected debris can lead to blockages in the blood vessels. Blockages prevent blood from reaching to your organs, and can cause tissue damage. If a piece of debris breaks off from one of these blockages, it can become lodged in the blood vessels of the heart causing a heart attack, or it can be lodged in the blood vessels of the brain causing a stroke.
So what can you do to prevent or reverse hypertension and avoid these tragic results? Modify your lifestyle. This means eat better and exercise more. Sounds easy, right? Well, this is often easier said than done. With the responsibilities that come along with having jobs and families, there’s often not enough time in the day to take care of yourself. Thankfully, you can let Body Logic do some of the work for you!
According to a 2013 study published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, Swedish massage was proven to decrease both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings of women with pre-hypertension. The researchers also found that these blood pressure readings remained lowered for at least 72 hours after the massage! So schedule yourself a massage- not only will it help reduce stress and promote muscle relaxation, it will help protect your heart and blood vessels! (And while you’re at it, make sure your significant other’s heart is nice and healthy too and get them a massage gift certificate for Valentine’s Day! They’ll love it almost as much as they love you!)
Changing your diet can also help keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats like poultry and fish, and high fiber foods can help maintain the strength of the blood vessel walls and reduce the risk of debris collecting in the blood vessels. Not sure exactly what this means? Having trouble swallowing enough of the “right stuff?” The doctors at Body Logic can recommend nutritional supplements such as Tuna Omega 3 or Whole Food Fiber, and help design a plan for eating and exercise that is practical and realistic to make your heart healthy for years to come.