High blood pres­sure leads to many com­pli­ca­tions

Cape Breton Post - - FOOD FOCUS -

EAR DR. DONO­HUE: Is a blood pres­sure of 165/95 all that bad? I know my dad’s blood pres­sure has been over 200 and he’s still alive at age 79. I take a wa­ter pill, but I’d like to lower it without any medicine. Is that pos­si­ble? How? — K.C.

AN­SWER: Nor­mal blood pres­sure is a read­ing of less than 120/80. Pres­sures of 140/90 or higher are con­sid­ered hy­per­ten­sion ( high blood pres­sure). Num­bers be­tween those two read­ings are called pre­hy­per­ten­sion — not high blood pres­sure but likely to be­come high blood pres­sure in a short time. El­e­va­tion of ei­ther num­ber — the first (sys­tolic) or the sec­ond (di­as­tolic) — con­sti­tutes high pres­sure. Both can be el­e­vated. High blood pres­sure leads to heart at­tacks, strokes, kid­ney fail­ure and eye dam­age. Your pres­sure is bad enough to put you at risk for those com­pli­ca­tions.

Weight loss low­ers pres­sure by five to 10 points for about 20 pounds of weight re­duc­tion. Half an hour of daily ex­er­cise brings it down two to four points; a lowsalt diet re­duces it by two to eight points; mod­er­at­ing al­co­hol in­take (two drinks a day for men, one for women) takes off two to four points. Adopt­ing the DASH (Di­etary Ap­proaches to Stop Hy­per­ten­sion) diet can de­crease blood pres­sure by a whop­ping 14 points. This diet em­pha­sizes

Dfruits, veg­eta­bles and grains. It de-em­pha­sizes sat­u­rated fats, the fats in meat and whole-fat dairy prod­ucts. Low-fat dairy prod­ucts are al­lowed. Adding potas­si­um­rich foods is an­other way to con­trol blood pres­sure — foods such as ba­nanas, or­anges, or­ange juice, kid­ney beans, navy beans, pota­toes with skins, can­taloupe, raisins, dates, spinach and sweet pota­toes.

Th­ese in­ter­ven­tions work for many but not for all, and a num­ber of peo­ple still have to re­sort to medicines for blood pres­sure con­trol. Di­uret­ics (your wa­ter pill) of­ten are cho­sen for a pres­sure like yours. We have five dif­fer­ent classes of blood pres­sure medicines, with many medicines in each class. Adding a medicine from an­other class is some­times nec­es­sary, and not in­fre­quently a third drug has to be pre­scribed.

The book­let on high blood pres­sure ex­plains this com­mon and se­ri­ous dis­or­der in de­tail. To or­der a copy, write to: Dr. Dono­hue — No. 104, Box 536475, Or­lando, FL 32853-6475. En­close a cheque or money or­der (no cash) for $6 Cdn with the re­cip­i­ent’s printed name and ad­dress. Al­low four weeks for de­liv­ery.

DEAR DR. DONO­HUE: I am 88 years old, and my ques­tion has to do with a low-salt diet. My doc­tor has me on one for my blood pres­sure. I can re­mem­ber the days when goi­ters were com­mon. I know io­dine was added to salt to pre­vent them. I don’t see as many goi­ters now. Will this low-salt diet cause me to get one? I would rather have high blood pres­sure. — W.W.

AN­SWER: A goi­ter is an en­larged thy­roid gland, and many dif­fer­ent ill­nesses cause it. It can be seen as a bulge in the lower neck. Io­dine de­fi­ciency is one cause. In the 1920s, io­dine was added to salt to pro­vide a source of this min­eral to those who lived in places where the io­dine con­tent of soil was low. Once that pro­gram was un­der way, the num­ber of goi­ters dropped.

A low-salt diet still pro­vides you with more than enough io­dine to pre­vent goi­ter for­ma­tion.

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