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The Silent Killer




I know we are not the US but I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss high blood pressure and how to be proactive about it.

Why did the USA change their guidelines?

“We need to send the message that yes, you are at increased risk and these are the things you should be doing,” said Whelton, chair of global public health at Tulane University in New Orleans. “I’m not saying it’s easy to change our lifestyles, but that should be first and foremost.

They believe that lifestyle interventions should be the first measure to preventing the "silent killer"

Hypertension is the leading preventable cause of death and disability around the world, and can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and dementia. Over 7.5 million Canadians have hypertension, and 7.4 million more have high blood pressure that will lead to hypertension without preventative action.(hypertension Canada)

This should make us all sit up and think about the last time we had our blood pressure checked.

Do you know your numbers?

Blood Pressure consists of two numbers.

The top number is called the systolic number and represents the contraction phase of the heart.

The bottom number is the diastolic number and represents the relaxation phase of the heart.

Both numbers are equally important as you could have just

systolic hypertension or diastolic hypertension - or both

numbers could be elevated.

But what exactly is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of the blood against the blood vessel and if it is consistently high can damage the blood vessel and so over time lead to the complications of hypertension.

So how do you accurately measure blood pressure?

The guideline, the first comprehensive one in 14 years, homes in on making sure doctors’ offices and patients understand how to accurately measure blood pressure and diagnose hypertension in the first place. “ Source: (American Heart Association)

Measure at home with a home monitor.

Sit quietly for 5 minutes and then take 2 measurements. Repeat this in the evening.

Record your blood pressure in a log and take to your doctor’s office for interpretation.

What are the causes of high blood pressure?


You see from this list that there is more in the “you can control” column than the “can’t control column”.

WE should be proactive, trying to control these risk factors if we want to prevent high blood pressure.

How exactly can you prevent high blood pressure?

The recommendations for a heart-healthy diet include reducing salt and incorporating potassium-rich foods such as bananas, potatoes, avocados and dark leafy vegetables.

The guideline also gives specific suggestions for weight loss, quitting cigarettes, cutting back on alcohol and increasing physical activity.

  • Be physically active for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. (moderate physical activity means you sweat a little and breathe a little harder)

  • Eat a healthy diet based on vegetables & fruit, low-fat milk products, whole grains & lean meats, fish, legumes (beans) and nuts.

  • Do not add salt/sodium to foods prepared at home or at the table.

  • Eat a lower salt/sodium diet. Most of the sodium in your diet comes from processed or packaged foods, and restaurant & take-out meals. (Wash canned foods & other salty foods before eating or cooking.)

  • Learn to read the sodium content on food labels. Choose packaged foods with 5% or less daily value for sodium.

  • If you are overweight, .

  • Manage your stress levels to improve your coping skills and your health.

  • Limit alcohol to 1-2 standard drinks per day or less.

  • Do not smoke and avoid places where others are smoking.


Now that you know what is blood pressure, how to measure it and how to prevent it, go check your numbers and get started on your health journey.

Come see us at Mindful Medicine if you are interested in learning more about preventative health.

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