Category Archives: blood pressure

Could Unemployment Increase Stroke Risk?

In unstable financial times, losing a job can be a very stressful time in one’s life.  Anxiety and depression could develop as a result of such a big life event. In turn, a person’s health may start to worsen after losing a job if they do not have effective measures in place to help manage their stress.  Emotional eating, loss of sleep, and engaging in unhealthy habits such as drinking and smoking may develop as a result of stress. In fact, a study from Japan has recently found that those who are unemployed have a greater risk of stroke than those who are employed.

unemployment, health, stroke, heart disease

Unemployment and Stroke Risk Study

A recent study of about 42,000 men found that those men who were unemployed had a 60-percent higher risk of stroke than those who were steadily employed. In addition, those unemployed men who suffered a stroke were about 120-percent more likely to die from it than those employed men who had a stroke. For women, those who were unemployed had a 50-percent greater chance of having a stroke. Of those women who had a stroke, those who were unemployed had a 150-percent greater chance of death.

It is suggested that these alarming rates of stroke and stroke-related death in the unemployed may be due to unhealthy habits such as drinking, smoking, being inactive, and having a poor diet.  In addition, it is suggested that even once re-employed, individuals may feel afraid that they will lose their job again, and therefore may be afraid to take leave when they are sick.  In turn, this could affect their long-term physical health.

Although this study is based on the Japanese culture, it may not be completely applicable to Americans, so further studies must be done. However, studies like the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System reported by the Centers for Disease Control suggest risk of depression is significantly increased for those Americans out of work.

How Can I Lower My Risk For Stroke?

Staying heart healthy involves a holisitic approach of eating balanced meals, staying active, and managing stress. Follow the tips below to help you keep your heart healthy for many years to come.

  • Consume minimally processed foods.  There are many foods that have to go through some processing to create such as yogurt or cottage cheese.  However, these types of products are only minimally processed. When trying to eat heart healthy, just be sure to limit highly processed foods such as neon-colored salty snacks, canned foods, pre-packaged meals, and deli meats like hot dogs or luncheon meat.  Just keep in mind that if it is an unnatural color, or has a confusing list of ingredients, then it is likely to be a highly processed product.
  • Consume plenty of fiber-rich foods. Fruits, veggies, whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats, as well as nuts and seeds are all great natural sources of fiber.  Fiber is important for helping stabilize blood glucose levels, slow down digestion to help with absorption of nutrients from foods, and to bulk stool to help with elimination of wastes from the body. Furthermore, fiber is also great for helping you to stay more satisfied after meals, so it can help with weight management.
  • Stay active.  Staying active each day for at least 30 minutes can be a great way to blow off some steam and keep your heart healthy.  This doesn’t mean you have to go to boot camp classes or run a marathon. Simple moderate activity such as walking, riding a bike, or swimming can help keep your heart  healthy.  Exercise not only works to strengthen your heart, but can also act as an outlet for stress.
  • Get plenty of sleep. When you are feeling stressed, it can be hard to sleep. However, lack of sleep can actually make you more prone to anxiety and depression. This is because your body uses sleeping time to regulate hormones, fluids, and blood glucose levels in the body.  If you have trouble sleeping, try natural essential oils such as lavender or frankincense to help relax your mind. Other sleeping aids may include:
    • Relaxation breathing
    • Listening to relaxing music
    • Eliminating screen time before bed
    • Avoiding fluid consumption 2 hours before bed to avoid interrupted sleep
    • Supplements like Somnova from Vitasciences.

Somnova includes natural ingredients like melatonin and magnesium that work together to help produce restful sleep. Melatonin is also natural, so it is unlikely to have any interactions with other medicines you may be taking. However, be sure to check with your medical provider before starting any supplement regimen.

  • Develop healthy stress management techniques.  Find 15 minutes a day to engage in an activity that you enjoy. Reading a book,  taking a relaxing bath, or going to an acupuncturist or massage therapist, are some ways to relax. Also, visiting a counselor may help you better deal with stress and anxiety. Consistent self-care is essential to overall health and well-being. You can also try supplements like TheraCALM from Vitasciences to help with stress relief and restful sleep.

Visit Vitasciences for all of your supplement needs to help enhance your healthy lifestyle. Also, be sure to visit the National Stroke Association for more information on stroke facts, prevention, and research.

written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (August 2015) “The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#.WPUehMuQx9A

Centers for Disease Control (March 19, 2015). “Unemployment and Depression Among Emerging Adults in 12 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2010” https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/14_0451.htm

Medline Plus (2017 April 13). “Another Downside to Unemployment: Stroke Risk?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164623.html

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Can Exercise Prevent Stroke Complications?

stroke, heart disease, health

Knowing these signs and symptoms of stroke can help save a life; perhaps even your own.

I’m sure you have heard many times before how exercising is great for keeping your heart strong. Therefore, it may come as no surprise that exercise has been found to prevent complications after someone has a stroke.

 

What is a stroke?

A stroke is essentially a brain attack of which there are two major types.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel bursts.  An ischemic stroke is caused by restricted blood flow to the brain as a result of a vessel being blocked.

According to the National Stroke Association, these brain attacks are the fifth leading cause of death in America and one of the leading causes of adult disabilities in the country.  Unlike what was previously though, it is estimated that 80-percent of strokes can be prevented by such controllable lifestyle factors as:

  • Eating a healthy diet. To consume a heart and brain healthy diet, you can:
    • Limit saturated fats in the diet such as those from fatty meats, whole fat dairy products, and fried foods.
    • Limit sodium in the diet to 2300 milligrams a day.  You can limit sodium by reducing the amount of processed food products you consume each day.  Try to  limit intake of high sodium foods such as canned soups, chips, deli meats, and adding salt to your food.
    • Limit added sugars at meal and snack time.  Try to stick to foods that contain less than 15 grams of sugar per serving and limit intake of sugary drinks such as juice, cola, milkshakes, and dessert coffee drinks.
  • Stay active. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. This doesn’t mean you have to attend boot camp classes. Just walking at a brisk pace is enough to keep your heart strong.
  • Limit alcohol intake. For healthy living, you should consume no more than 1 standard drink a day for women and no more than 2 standard drinks a day for men. Alcohol has been associated with increased blood pressure, which can increase risk of stroke. One standard drink is equal to 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine, or 1.5 ounces liquor.
  • Quit smoking or don’t start. Smoking constricts the blood vessels, therefore restricting blood flow to the organs and tissues.
  • Visit your doctor regularly. You and your healthcare provider should work to control any chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes since these conditions can increase your risk of having a stroke.

Exercise and stroke

In the journal Neurology, researchers followed individuals with no history of stroke for 12 years.  Over 7-percent of those individuals suffered a stroke and survived during the course of the study.  It was found that three years after this major health event, survivors who had exercised regularly before their stroke were 18 percent more likely to be able to perform basic tasks such as bathing themselves. Furthermore, those individuals who were more fit were 16 percent more likely to be able to perform more complex tasks, such as managing money on their own, compared to those who did not exercise.

Surprisingly, a person’s body mass index, or estimate of fat mass, was not a predicting factor in their level of disability after having a stroke. Therefore, it is suggested that doctors should stress the importance of leading an active lifestyle for not only prevention of the condition, but also to improve chances of survival if a stroke occurs.

Another way to help prevent stroke is to take a heart healthy supplement such as Circova by Vita SciencesCircova contains a powerful blend of Hawthorne extract which has been found to assist in the dilation of blood vessels, in turn increasing blood flow to the heart.

Visit the National Stroke Association website for more information on how you can prevent stroke.

-Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

National Stroke Association (accessed 2017 April 10) “What is Stroke?” http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/what-stroke

Preidt, R. (2017 April 5) “Fitness, Not Fat, Is Key to Post-Stroke Recovery” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164476.html

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Three ways you can control your hypertension today

Are you one of the 85 million Americans with high blood pressure? If so, it is important to know what you can do to control your blood pressure and prevent heart disease.  In many cases, there are not any obvious symptoms of high blood pressure.  Therefore, it is important to keep track of your numbers and visit your doctor regularly to control your blood pressure.

If you want to control your blood pressure today, follow these three steps to get started on your heart healthy journey.

1.) Lower your sodium intake.  A recent study of the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey looked at salt intake and high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.  Between 1999 and 2012, the sodium intake of those with hypertension rose nearly 14-percent from 2900 to 3350 milligrams daily.  The recommended sodium intake for those with hypertension is 1500 milligrams a day, while those without hypertension should limit intake to 2300 milligrams daily.  It is important to note that that 2300 milligrams of sodium is equal to just one teaspoon of salt.  Furthermore, reports show that three-fourths of the sodium most people consume daily is not from added salt.  Instead, most excess sodium intake is from consuming processed food products. Therefore, it is important to limit prepackaged foods such as:

  • chips
  • crackers
  • canned soups
  • boxed meals
  • deli meats, sausages, and hot dogs
  • take-out food

These convenience foods contain high levels of sodium-based preservatives that make them shelf stable. Therefore, stick to consuming mostly fresh, whole foods such as lean meats, fiber-rich fruits and veggies, and whole grains to maintain healthy levels of daily sodium.

2.) Stay active every day. According to the American Heart Association, at least 40 minutes of exercise each day, 3-4 days a week can help control blood pressure. A recent study in the journal Hypertension looked at the link between exercise and risk of high blood pressure in African Americans.  High blood pressure risk was nearly one-fourth lower in those who exercised at least 150 minutes a week versus non-exercisers. However, it is important to note that the exercise found to be most beneficial was done in bouts of at least ten minutes.

3.) Take your medicine and supplements daily.

Be sure to take any prescribed medicines as suggested by your healthcare provider.  This is because for some people, diet and exercise may not be enough to maintain blood pressure at a healthy level.  In addition, there are some supplements that may be able to help support healthy blood pressure levels. One of these supplements is Presura by Vita SciencesPresura contains niacin, which is found to dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and in turn lower blood pressure levels. Therefore, visit Vita Sciences to find supplements that can help support your heart healthy lifestyle today.

For more information on how to control your blood pressure, visit the American Heart Association website or Medline Plus for the latest research findings.

-Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (2017 March 10) “The Facts about High Blood Pressure” https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/The-Facts-About-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_002050_Article.jsp

American Heart Association (2016 December 13) “Five Simple Steps to Control Your Blood Pressure” https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/Five-Simple-Steps-to-Control-Your-Blood-Pressure_UCM_301806_Article.jsp

Medline Plus (2017 March 8) “Americans with High Blood Pressure Still Eating Too Much Salt.” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163977.html

U.S. News World Report (2017 January 30) “Exercise May Help Black Americans Lower Blood Pressure Risk” http://health.usnews.com/health-care/articles/2017-01-30/exercise-may-help-black-americans-lower-blood-pressure-risk

 

 

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Could lowering your blood pressure save your life?

Could you be the one in five people who has high blood pressure without knowing it?  You may ask what symptoms you should look out for to know if you have high blood pressure, or hypertension. However, the scariest thing about hypertension is that it usually has no symptoms.  Furthermore, a recent study found that more intensive lowering of systolic blood pressure could save over 100,000 early deaths each year.hypertension, blood pressure, heart health

When looking at blood pressure numbers, the bottom number represents systolic pressure, while the top number represents diastolic pressure.  Systolic pressure shows how much pressure your heart is exerting during heartbeats.  On the other hand, the diastolic pressure shows how much pressure your heart is exerting between heartbeats.

Knowing Your Numbers

It is important to keep track of your blood pressure numbers to know if you are at risk for hypertension. According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure number is 120/80 mmHg. However, once this number starts to rise, a person climbs into the pre-hypertension range.  Furthermore, when your number moves up to around 140/90 mmHg and above, you become hypertensive.  It is at this point when you should see your healthcare provider for advice on any medications or lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your numbers.

Lowering Systolic Pressure Could Save Lives

A study by researchers at Loyola University Chicago looked at the effects of intensive systolic pressure lowering treatment on hypertensive adults over the age of 50 years.  Each person in the study received at least two hypertensive medicines.  Patients were observed over several years. It was found that when blood pressure was lowered to less than 120/80 versus less than 140/90, there was a 27-percent reduction in mortality from all causes.  In other words, for every 300 people given this intensive treatment over one year, one life would be saved.  When considering that around 18 million people would qualify for this treatment, it could save around 107,500 lives each year.

Therefore, check your blood pressure at least once a year.  Check your numbers more often if you have a family history of hypertension or other risk factors such as obesity or being a smoker.   If you are pre-hypertensive and are not currently on a heart healthy regimen or medication treatment, see your healthcare provider for assistance.  Simple changes to your lifestyle such as reducing sodium intake and walking for 30 minutes a day can improve your numbers.

In addition, natural treatments may also help to support lower blood pressure numbers. Presura from Vitasciences contains natural ingredients such as Hawthorn Berry, Niacin, and Garlic Extract that work together to decrease pressure against the walls of blood vessels. Visit Vitasciences today to get more information on Presura and how it can be a great addition to your  heart healthy lifestyle.

-Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (2016 Oct)  “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp#.WLPQvoWcHIU

American Heart Association (2016 Oct) “Why High Blood Pressure is a ‘Silent Killer'” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/UnderstandSymptomsRisks/Why-High-Blood-Pressure-is-a-Silent-Killer_UCM_002053_Article.jsp#.WLPRO4WcHIU

Loyola University Health System (2017 Feb 23) “Intensive lowering of systolic blood pressure could prevent 107,500 early deaths per year.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170223092400.htm

Mayo Clinic (2016 Sept 9) “High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Risk Factors” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/basics/risk-factors/con-20019580

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