Which specific lifestyle changes helps BP?

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Answered by: Renier, An Expert in the Diet and Exercise Category
Which specific lifestyle changes helps BP?

The case of John...

John, a male in his late forties, was diagnosed with high blood pressure (BP) five years ago. During those early stages his average BP reading hovered around the 165/95 mark. This is fairly close to the danger zone. In fact, on four occasions he was rushed to the nearest clinic's emergency rooms, with readings anything from 195/105 to 210/115 (this falls in the range of blood pressure spikes).

Clarifying top and bottom BP readings...

When the heart beats, pushing blood through the arteries, the force that's created against the artery walls is called systolic blood pressure (top reading). Diastolic blood pressure (bottom reading), on the other hand, is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.

Due to the overwhelming nature of blood pressure spikes, John was also experiencing massive panic attacks at the same time.

After his doctor tried various beta-blocker and diuretic treatment combinations, even adding renin inhibitors to the mix, his overall BP reading improved by about 15%. This took him out of the danger zone, but it still wasn't good enough for John. His target was to get his top reading below 120, and his bottom reading below 80 - numbers that are considered normal.

Whilst medication in certain blood pressure cases can only do so much, complete lifestyle changes helps BP.

John therefore decided to re-evaluate his life, and whilst under the guidance of his doctor he set out to tackle the issue head-on. The idea of suffering a heart attack or stroke that could either kill or permanently debilitate him was never part of his life's narrative.

Diet and exercise lowers high blood pressure and saves lives

First up, John quit drinking and smoking. His overwhelming desire to not only live, but to live a healthy life that will prolong his years, inspired him. Just from quitting liquor and tobacco his BP average dropped by 15-18%. John then adjusted his diet and started a moderate exercising routine. His motto had become: "I will beat this condition that kills more people than AIDS and cancer combined!"

With his new diet he cut out all Trans fat, processed foods, and unnecessary sugar. As importantly, he monitored his sodium intake; making sure not to add any salt to meals. Potassium had also become his new buzzword - and that means a lot of tomatoes, bananas, avocado, spinach and sweet potato (these weren't food types he normally consumed; no, John was always a red meat and white starch man).

His staple diet had now become a mix of fresh vegetables and fruit (especially black and blueberries, and strawberries), fish dishes high in omega oils (no shellfish though), lean meat cuts, high-fiber rice, dark chocolate with an 80% + coco mass, unsalted peanuts and raisins, and other dried fruits and nuts for snack times. No more pasta, milk chocolate, ice cream, cakes and bakes, pizza, deep fried chicken, and all those other dishes and food types that had taken his taste buds hostage over the years.

He now also monitored his meal times, making sure to rather consume 7-8 smaller meal portions instead of three conventional meals.

As for exercising, he started off slowly. Five times every week he would take a 45 minute brisk walk, gradually increasing the distance and pace. Currently John can jog three to four miles at a rather healthy speed.

It definitely wasn't easy, but through dogged determination, a couple of slips, and after 5 months' perseverance, John could finally reap the fruits of his efforts.

His most recent BP readings over a 4-week period were: 118/82 123/79 126/76 and 116/80

Subsequently, his doctor also took him off all BP medication.

John sees this as his greatest personal achievement in life...

"I can only say I'm blessed. It's really a wonder I'm still alive, and that I haven't suffered a stroke or heart attack during all those years.

Every morning I wake up with a new lease on life; even my senses are sharper; the food tastes nicer, emotionally I'm stronger, and physically I'm in the best shape of my life. Previously I used to get these red flashes in my face, even they're now gone. I sleep better, love better. Everything's changed! My experience just proves that through a bit of research and sheer will, high blood pressure can be beat."

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