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You and Your Blood Pressure

There is a strong association between high blood pressure and serious health risks, such as high cholesterol, kidney disease, stroke and heart disease.

Your Pressure while Aging

Blood pressure tends to worsen with age. Older adults are more prone to ‘isolated high blood pressure’ where systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) but diastolic is not.

The gradual rise in blood pressure with age is primarily associated with arteriosclerosis, where large arteries lose elasticity, becoming stiffer and thicker with arterosclerosis, the gradual buildup of plague in arteries.

Aging also reduces the kidney’s efficiency and ability to excrete salt, causing an unhealthy circulatory-system overload that effects systolic and diastolic pressures.

Blood Pressure and Obesity

The risk of developing hypertension or high blood pressure from obesity (a BMI of over 25), has been increasing at an alarming rate. Obesity places a consistent strain on the heart’s cardiac output (defined as the amount of blood your heart pumps).

With obesity, disturbances in the sympathetic nervous system(causing your arteries to constrict); sodium retention; and metabolic abnormalities such as glucose intolerance(higher than normal blood sugar levels), a recourse to pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

How Exercise Affects Your Blood Pressure

Epidemiological studies show that increasing physical activity and fitness, even by small amounts reduces blood pressure and hypertension.

Both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training can reduce blood pressure, though research shows that cardiovasular exercise is more effective.

Research shows that in adults with hypertension blood pressure drops 5- to 8- points.

Cardiovascular exercise brings down blood pressure by reducing epinephrine and norepinephrine levels, which in turn decreases artery constriction.

Cardiovascular exercise also enhances blood vessel function and generates structural adaptations in arteries

All of these changes improve blood circulation, potentially causing resting blood pressure to drop.

AHA and ACSM Exercise Guidelines for lowering blood pressure:

90-150 minutes a week at 65 % to 75% of heart rate

90-150 minutes a week of resistance training at 50 % - to 80 % of one-repetition maximum. in multi-set training with at least six total-body exercises, 10 repetitions per set.

When you have additional medical conditions, muscle weakness, frailty, bone or joint, and/or balance and mobility problems, additional adjustments need to be made to your exercise program to specifically target those problems and for you to reap optimal benefit from your exercise program.

How Your Food Choices Affect Blood Pressure

Reducing sodium, saturated fat, total fat and alcohol, consuming more vegetables and fruit, whole grains and low-fat dairy reduces blood pressure. Low carbohydrate, vegetarian and vegan diets also help reduce blood pressure. The DASH Diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) can help you figure out what to eat, and determine your portion size.

Sodium intake guidelines: optimal goal of less than 1,500 milligrams per day.

Taking Blood Pressure at Both Left and Right Arm

Differences in blood pressure readings taken from the left and right arms may be a sign of heart and blood vessel disease and death risk, according to a new review of recent research.

Researchers found that a difference of 15 points or more in the readings between the left and right arms raised the risk of peripheral vascular disease, a narrowing or blockage of the arteries, by two-and-a-half times.

That same 15 point-difference in systolic readings (the top number in a blood pressure reading) also increased the risk of cerebrovascular disease by 60%. Cerebrovascular disease is associated with thinking problems, such as dementia, and an increased risk of stroke.

New Client Intake and Periodic Interval Blood Pressure Measurements

As part of our initial new client intake we obtain blood pressure from both left and right arm. We specialist is exercise training mature and older adults often with multiple complex medical conditions.

Obtaining blood pressure on both arms provides a better detection of people at higher risk of disease, and has saved the lives of several of our clients.

When you visit your doctors for a consult, blood pressure is generally taken at the left arm only. We recommend that blood pressure is taken on both arms periodically on regular intervals of 3 months unless otherwise indicated( lymphedema or other reason).

When you are concerned about your blood pressure, we recommend you ask your trainer or therapist to obtain blood pressure at both arms and track these over time. When at high risk, taking blood pressure before and after exercise can also provide your cardiologist with more information for treatment.

How to get accurate blood pressure readings

1. Try to take your blood pressure at the same time each day. Levels are usually lowest in the morning, and then rise steadily through the day.
2. Avoid exercise, tobacco, and caffeine for at least an hour before. All can make blood pressure spike temporarily (though it's unclear if they have a lasting effect on blood pressure.)
3. Go the bathroom. A full bladder can raise systolic pressure by 10 to 15 mmHg. One of the main blood pressure medications, diuretics, lower blood pressure in part by causing your kidneys to remove more sodium and water from the body (in other words, go to the bathroom a lot), which helps to relax the blood vessel walls.
4. Rest for 5 minutes before the reading. Feet should be flat on the floor, legs uncrossed, and cuff at heart level; those can each affect systolic pressure by 2 to 10 mmHg.
5. Put the cuff on bare skin. Putting it over clothes can raise systolic pressure by up to 40 mmHg.
6. Remain quiet during the test. Talking can raise systolic pressure by 10 to 15 mmHg.

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