You already know that high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, kidney failure, and blindness. Now there is one more reason to get your blood pressure levels under control. This condition has been found to be more damaging to the brain than previously realized. People as young as in their 40s show changes in brain structure associated with cognitive decline in the elderly, according to a recent study published in the medical journal The Lancet Neurology.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure (HBP) has been shown to affect ability to think, remember, and learn. If you know your levels aren’t where they should be, get it under control now for better brain health later. If you don’t know what your blood pressure is, get it checked!
It’s strongly advised that anyone with HBP get an at-home monitor. Readings taken at a doctor’s office are often skewed by what the Mayo Clinic calls “white coat hypertension.” Your blood pressure normally varies with exercise, stress, digestion, and time of day, so the most accurate readings can be done at home.
Oddly, most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if levels are dangerously high. Mayo Clinic states that in most cases there is no identifiable cause of high blood pressure, but there are risk factors.
- Age – Risk increases with age.
- Gender – This condition is more common in men, but after menopause women are more at risk.
- Race – African Americans have a particularly high risk.
- Family history
- Being overweight
- Tobacco use
- Too much dietary sodium
- Too little dietary potassium
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Alcohol abuse
- Underlying health conditions – High cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease, and sleep apnea can contribute.
Control HBP Naturally
There’s nothing you can do about age, gender, or family history. But most risk factors are under your control. Here are 7 ways to help lower your blood pressure naturally.
- Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. If you are overweight, get on a weight loss program.
- Regular physical exercise can lower your blood pressure within just a few weeks. Be a tortoise and not a hare. It’s healthier to start slow and exercise daily than to overdo it occasionally.
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium. This will help balance your sodium/potassium ratio. Read labels on any food item that has one. You might be shocked that some items you thought were healthy, like canned soups, have more sodium than potato chips!
- If you smoke, stop. Not only does it contribute to high blood pressure but has been shown repeatedly to be amongst the worst things you can do to your brain. One cigarette can raise your blood pressure by 10 points for an hour.
- Drink caffeine moderately, if at all. It also causes temporary blood pressure spikes.
- Chronic stress can temporarily increase blood pressure. There are plenty of stress-reduction techniques you can try such as meditation, brain wave entrainment, biofeedback, yoga, and exercise.
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, cocoa, and coenzyme Q-10 supplements have all been shown to help.
Talk to Your Doctor
Some high blood pressure medications have been shown to cause memory loss. If that is your case, discuss this with your doctor. Conversely, some studies have shown that HBP medications can improve memory by returning blood pressure levels to normal.
If you have high blood pressure you should be under the care of a doctor. Talk to him or her about how to best integrate any lifestyle changes with your current treatment plan.
High Blood Pressure Risk Factors at MayoClinic.com
White Coat Hypertension; When Blood Pressure Rises at the Doctor’s Office at MayoClinic.com
Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure at Altmedicine.about.com
Improving Memory: Lifestyle Changes, Medications and Memory at Discovery Fit & Health
Deane Alban is co-founder of BeBrainFit.com where she teaches how to keep your mind sharp and your brain fit for the rest of your life. Deane holds a BA in biology and has taught and written about natural health topics for over 20 years.
She writes a weekly newsletter to help if you suffer with poor memory, brain fog, or worry about “losing it” as you age that you can sign up for free at her website. You’ll also receive a copy of the original report – “Jumpstart Your Brain – Guide to a Better Memory.”
Copyright © 2012 Deane Alban. This article is published by HelpingYouCare® by permission and license from the author. All rights reserved.
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