Our paper discusses the importance of nutrition and how it plays a part on our health. Specifically focusing on the disorder, hypertension. Hypertension is the medical diagnosis term used for when a person has high blood pressure. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood through your body. In this paper, we go into depth on how certain types of foods increase our blood pressure and what we can do to minimize it. Lifestyle and dietary changes play a large role in our everyday lives.

We also discuss the signs and symptoms that occur with hypertension so we can monitor our health carefully and take the proper precautions so it does not get worse. Hypertension is one of the most common diseases affecting humans today. Hypertension is determined by a person’s blood pressure. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood through your body. When reading blood pressure, there are two numbers to take into consideration, 120/80 is the normal blood pressure reading.


The top number is called the systolic blood pressure and the bottom is the diastolic blood pressure. If a person’s blood pressure reading is above 140/90, they are at risk for being hypertensive. But if ones blood pressure reading is higher than 120/80 but lower than 140/90, they are considered pre-hypertensive. (http://emedicine. medscape. com/article/241381-overview) High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because it has no symptoms and can go undetected for years.

This is why it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Hypertension has no cure, but it can be managed and controlled with proper lifestyle modifications and prescription medications. Although medications can help manage a person with hypertension, the best way to control and maintain a good health is by changing your daily lifestyle and eating habits. High blood pressure increases your chances of having a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease and early death. (http://www. ncbi. lm. nih. gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001502/) Common risk factors for hypertension are people who are African American, family history of high blood pressure, obesity, high salt diet, diabetes, smoking and drinking too much alcohol on a daily basis. It is also common to develop hypertension, as you get older due to the blood vessels getting stiffer as you age. Because hypertension has no symptoms, heart disease and kidney problems may occur if you don’t maintain a healthy diet and regularly check your blood pressure.

Although if you have symptoms such as severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, changes in vision or nosebleeds, these can be signs of a much more severe and dangerous type of hypertension, called malignant hypertension. Malignant hypertension occurs suddenly and quickly, having a significantly high diastolic blood pressure reading of 130mmHg indicates this type of hypertension. If you are diagnosed with hypertension, your physician will run other tests such as an Electrocardiogram (EKG), which is a test that measures the electrical activity, rate, and rhythm of your heartbeat via electrodes attached to your arms, legs, and chest.

Also an Echocardiogram is done, which is, a test that uses ultrasound waves to provide pictures of the heart’s valves and chambers so the pumping action of the heart can be studied and measurement of the chambers and wall thickness of the heart can be made. (http://www. webmd. com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/whypertension-diagnosing-high-blood-pressure) An increase amount of fatty, high caloric and salty foods is what contributes to hypertension. The recommended intake of sodium is between 1,500 to 2,300 mg a day. The amount of potassium one consumes is also important.

Potassium and sodium work hand in hand in the body, it works with sodium to regulate the body’s water balance. To maintain a healthy diet to decrease the chances of being diagnosed with hypertension, one must decrease sodium intake, increase potassium intake, watch calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight. The Dash diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, assists in treating and prevention high blood pressure. It gives you a guideline of the healthy choices of foods you should include in your diet.

Minimizing foods with a high sodium intake, potassium enriched foods, and increasing your daily intake of calcium rich foods and magnesium. (http://www. mayoclinic. com/health/dash-diet/HI00047) By using the DASH diet as a guideline over time, it will significantly lower your chances of developing hypertension. Most people are unaware of the recommended daily intake of sodium, so this diet helps inform individuals of the proper amount one you should consume. The DASH diet is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat. It includes lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and low fat diary products.

You can include red meets, sweets and fats in limited amounts. Tips on reducing sodium intake include, not adding salt when cooking pastas or rice, rinsing canned foods to remove excess sodium. When grocery shopping, be conscious of labels that read, “low sodium” or “no salt added”, also properly reading the serving size of the product, which most people tend to forget or not understand. Use low sodium spices to add flavor to your food instead of salt. It is best to cook food at home as oppose to eating outside. This way you are aware of what ingredients and especially how much salt is added to your foods.

Avoid high amounts of saturated fats when grocery shopping and limit processed foods as often as you can. Along with following the DASH diet, it is also best to incorporate physical activity to lower your blood pressure. It is best to exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day. Smoking and drinking also increases your chances of developing hypertension. It is best to consult with your physician on ways to help cut down on smoking and drinking. In conclusion making lifestyle modifications and changes in eating habits take time and patience.

Since there are no significant symptoms that occur with hypertension and it is often referred to as the “silent killer”, I think that is enough reason for one to take control of their lifestyle and eating habits to prevent a serious disease like hypertension to take a control of their lives. It is best to gradually make changes, so not only can the person get accustomed to the changes, but their body as well. When taking the proper precautions and steps, one can control their health and not let their health control them and thus preventing life long complications.

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Kylie Garcia

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