Your heart pushes blood through your arteries at great force, and you need that pressure to keep your arteries open and circulate blood. As we age, our blood pressure tends to increase, at least in industrialized countries.
Although it is extremely common, hypertension is not necessarily a natural result of aging. High blood pressure mostly affects the populations of industrialized countries, and that’s because it can be a lifestyle disease, meaning it can be attributed mostly to excess sodium and insufficient potassium in our diet, sedentary lifestyle and overweight, and excess alcohol. [Institute of Medicine]
High blood pressure contributes to problems with the arteries, and over a long period of uncontrolled high blood pressure, the heart muscle thickens. Heart function may decrease, leading to heart failure. Other organs suffer too. For example, high pressure in the brain vasculature increases risk of stroke and dementia, and high pressure in the kidneys can cause kidney damage.
Though it’s never too late to act, sooner is always better. Leaving hypertension unchecked for years or decades can eventually cause permanent changes.
High blood pressure at or above 115/75 is correlated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke, organ damage, and death. That’s why we need to adopt healthy habits, and the sooner the better!
You only have one heart, and with Dr. Z’s book and app, you have five habits to help protect it!
"YOU ONLY HAVE ONE HEART, AND NOW YOU HAVE FIVE HABITS TO HELP PROTECT IT."
DR. SAYEH ZIELKE
In Dr. Z’s opinion, there is no forbidden food. We should all enjoy a feast now and then, and no one’s here to ruin your life. Quite the opposite — Dr. Z wrote One Heart, Five Habits and created the One Heart Five Habits app because she wants you to live a long time, and to enjoy yourself, including at mealtimes. That said, we can make great strides toward good blood pressure control when we limit our intake of certain substances. Specifically, blood pressure can rise precipitously when we overdo sodium, alcohol, certain drugs and medications, and when we smoke cigarettes. Learn to reduce your intake of harmful substances in order to help improve your blood pressure and your quality of life!
Nutrients known to reduce blood pressure are concentrated in certain whole foods, and studies have found that those foods, consumed regularly, have significant blood pressure lowering effects. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day is arguably the most important part of this habit, while other foods that help blood pressure include low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean protein, oily fish, flaxseed meal, and a small amount of unsaturated fat. In One Heart, Five Habits, you’ll learn all about incorporating a complete diet to reduce blood pressure, and the One Heart Five Habits App will help you stay on track!
You don’t have to go far to enjoy the benefits of exercise—a manageable level of regular physical activity will lower your blood pressure directly. [Lawrence J. Appel]
For some people, exercise alone even reduces the need for blood pressure medication. Inactivity, meanwhile, makes health problems, including hypertension, much more likely, and more acute as well. [Frank W. Booth, Christian K. Roberts, and Matthew J. Laye]
Exercise is also, along with diet, a vital component in losing weight and keeping your BMI healthy. One large American study showed that being overweight and obesity may be responsible for about 26 percent of hypertension cases in men and 28 percent of hypertension cases in women. [Peter W. Wilson et al.]
In One Heart, Five Habits, you’ll learn which types of exercise, and how much of each, has been shown to help reduce blood pressure and maintain a healthy BMI, and you can track your progress with the One Heart Five Habits app.
You can give your body a break both by getting a good sleep most nights and by lowering your stress levels. By keeping track of how many hours you sleep at night, and by rating your mood each day on a sliding scale, you’ll be able to see if you are chronically sleep deprived or stressed. Remember, everyone has some sleepless nights and the occasional stressful day (or week), but the real issue is how chronic sleep problems and chronic depression and anxiety affect long-term hypertension. With Dr. Z’s book and app, you will learn to develop insight and to create a plan. If you think you might suffer from chronic stress or sleep deprivation, it’s important to seek professional help through your health care provider.
We can improve our odds of sustaining our lifestyle changes with one final habit. Habit 5 is to monitor—which simply involves keeping track of your blood pressure and your progress with the first four habits (reduce, eat, move, and sleep). Remarkably, patients who monitor their blood pressure at home are more likely to keep it low, [UpToDate] and studies show that self-monitoring and self-regulation are integral parts of a lifestyle plan that won’t fall prey to relapse. [Lawrence Appel et al.]
You can keep track of your blood pressure and your lifestyle habits easily, and see how they correlate with each other, with the One Heart Five Habits app.