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HEALTH & WELLNESS by jeff csatari


A Low Pressure System Seven natural ways to deflate high blood pressure


HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE isn’t like a sharp pebble in your hiking boot. You can’t feel it. That’s one reason why hyper- tension is called “the silent killer.” There might be no outward symp- toms, so unless you have it checked, you don’t know you have it. Over time, high pressure damages


arterial walls, causing health problems including blindness and kidney failure. One out of every three American


adults is living with hypertension, and more people receive treatment for high blood pressure than almost any other illness, according to the American Heart Association. Fortunately, there are effective medications to help manage hypertension. To avoid the need for drugs, however, focus on the big three risk reducers: don’t smoke, keep alcohol consumption low and lose weight if you are heavy.


“If high blood pressure isn’t due


to an adrenal or kidney issue, then it’s truly about lifestyle, the choices you make with diet and exercise, and how you live your life,” says Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a cardiologist and co- author of Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally (Rodale Books, 2014). What exactly can you do to lower


your blood pressure and reduce risks of related complications? First, know your numbers by having your blood pressure checked regularly. (See “Off the Cuff” to help make sense of these numbers.) Here are some simple, natural lifestyle changes you can start making today.


1 LOSE WEIGHT. Blood pressure tends to increase as your body weight increases. A protruding belly is a key indicator of “metabolic syndrome,” a


gang of risk factors that includes high blood pressure along with high blood sugar and high levels of triglycerides. Men are at risk if they have a waist measurement of 40 inches or more; women should be concerned if their waist measures 35 inches or more. Abdominal fat is particularly dan-


gerous because it secretes chemicals that can cause blood-vessel constriction, increasing the risk of high blood pres- sure. But even a modest reduction in weight — just 10 pounds — can sig- nificantly improve your health.


2 STOP SMOKING AND LIMIT ALCOHOL. The fact that nicotine boosts blood pressure and keeps it elevated may not come as a surprise. But did you know that having three, four or more adult beverages imme- diately boosts blood pressure, and drinking that much regularly can keep it high? A double whammy: heavy drinking (beer, wine and mixed drinks all count) makes matters worse by causing weight gain.


3 PUT DOWN THAT SALTSHAKER. University of Helsinki researchers reviewing dozens of health studies found that high intake of sodium cor- related with a shorter life. Conversely, people who changed their eating habits and reduced dietary sodium by 30 percent lived an average of seven years longer than those who kept the sodium levels in their diets high. What to do? Cut processed foods out of your diet. Frozen dinners and


FIND MORE wellness advice at scoutingmagazine.org/health.


36 S COUTING ¿ NOVEMBER•DECEMBER 2014


PHIL FOSTER


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