The Bottom Line on High Blood Pressure


High blood pressure or hypertension is called the silent killer because it can cause damage to your heart and blood vessels even though you may not have any symptoms.  One out of three adults in the United States has high blood pressure.  Many people think of high blood pressure as an older persons disease, however an alarming increase has been observed among children secondary to inactivity and obesity. 

 High blood pressure can lead to kidney disease, heart attacks, strokes and heart failure (an enlargement of the heart muscle).  Can this be prevented?  Unfortunately family history, increased age and ethnicity (African Americans are at a much higher risk) are risk factors that cannot be controlled.  Postmenopausal women also have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.  But the good news is there are numerous diet and lifestyle risk factors that are modifiable: being overweight, physical inactivity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, emotional stress and consuming a high salt diet. Sleep apnea is an often unrecognized contributing factor to high blood pressure, when the sleep apnea is treated the blood pressure often improves.

 What do your blood pressure (BP) numbers mean?

Two numbers are obtained when you get your blood pressure (BP) checked.  The first number is called the systolic BP and tells you how hard your heart muscle is working in order to pump the blood out of your heart and throughout your body.  If the systolic BP is high it means your heart muscle is working too hard and can lead to an enlargement and weakening of the heart muscle which leads to heart failure.  When the systolic BP is too high, your risk for stroke increases.  The higher the systolic BP, the higher your risk for stroke.  The second number is called the diastolic BP and tells you how relaxed or constricted your blood vessels are.  If the diastolic BP is too high, blood is not able to circulate effectively.  So both numbers are important to control.

What is a normal blood pressure?

Below are the current guidelines for both men and women.

Normal BP                   Less than 120/80

Pre-hypertension          120 to 139/80 to 89

Hypertension                140/90 or greater

 Some people have “white coat hypertension” which means they have a transient increase in their blood pressure when they see someone in a white coat (healthcare provider).  A single elevated blood pressure reading caused by the apprehension of going to the doctor’s office usually does not require treatment.  It is not uncommon to have fluctuations in your blood pressure with activity and emotional events but consistently high readings require treatment. 

Can high blood pressure be cured?

Kidney disease, tumors of the adrenal glands, or coarctation (narrowing) of the aorta may lead to high blood pressure.  Treating these disorders may eliminate the blood pressure problems.  But the majority (95%) of people with high blood pressure have essential hypertension meaning the underlying cause cannot be determined.  The most important goal is to control the blood pressure even if a specific cause for the high blood pressure cannot be found.  There are a lot of things you can do to help control your blood pressure.  Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise (remember walking counts as exercise); smoking cessation, weight loss if overweight, stress management, limiting alcohol consumption and sodium restriction can help to lower blood pressure.  Some people are more salt sensitive, and just by cutting back on their salt intake can lower their blood pressure significantly.  

 Eight Tips to Lower Blood Pressure:

1) Low Sodium (salt) Diet – recommendation is less than 2,400mg per day, or less than 2,000 mg of sodium daily if you have high blood pressure

2) Increase Potassium Rich Foods – recommendation is 4,700 mg of potassium daily.  Good food sources of potassium include: Bananas, Dried beans, Tomatoes, Beef, Orange juice/grapefruit juice, Milk, Coffee, Potatoes, Kidney beans, Salmon/Halibut

3) Exercise – Aim for 30 minutes 5 to 7 days every week

4) Weight loss (if overweight) or maintain a healthy weight

5) Use fresh garlic frequently (chop garlic and let sit for 15 minutes – this allows garlic to oxidize and gets converted to allicin which is the heart healthy part of garlic)

6) Develop consistent healthy stress relief strategies (exercise, get a massage, yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, deep breathing exercises, read, listen to relaxing music) whatever works best for you

7) Stop smoking

8) Limit alcoholic beverages (no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women)

 Many people will require medications to help control their blood pressure readings.  The majority of people with high blood pressure require two or more medications to keep their blood pressure controlled, this is why numerous combination medications are available.  Routine monitoring of your blood pressure is also important.  If you are taking high blood pressure medications and your blood pressure numbers are good you should not stop taking your medications without consulting with your healthcare provider.  Most likely the reason your blood pressure numbers are good is because of the medications.

A recent Centers for Disease Control publication stated that only about 30% of adults with high blood pressure have their blood pressure well controlled!  The only way to know if you have high blood pressure or to know if it is controlled with medications is to check your blood pressure on a regular basis.  Do you know your numbers?  If not what are you waiting for – get it checked today! Your heart will thank you.

For more heart healthy info visit


You Are What You Drink


So you are probably wondering… the beverages I drink really make that much of a difference? They are only liquids, right? Liquids “go right through me” so how much of an ill effect can they have?

You have probably heard the old saying “You are what you eat?”  Well, it is true, but “You are what you drink” also!

 Beverage Guidance Panel

 The Beverage Guidance Panel is a group of nutrition experts from the United States, which formed several years ago.  The purpose of this group was to review the existing research to determine which beverages are considered healthy.  They based their recommendations on the number of calories, energy and nutrients provided and health benefits of different beverages.  The winner hands down was water.  But that doesn’t mean this is the only beverage we should drink.  The Beverage Guidance Panel developed a six-level pitcher for beverages similar to the food pyramid.  (Published in the March 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Available online at

 The average adult should aim to drink 8 glasses of fluids every day.  The Beverage Guidance Panel recommends:

 Water: at least 4 (8 ounce) servings a day for women and 6 (8 ounce) servings a day for men

Unsweetened coffee or tea (iced or hot): up to 8 servings of tea or 4 servings of coffee per day

Low-fat Milk: up to 2 (8 ounce) servings per day

100% fruit or vegetable juice, whole milk, or sports drinks: up to 1 (8 ounce) serving per day

Carbonated soft drinks: up to 1 serving per day

Diet beverages with sugar substitutes: up to 4 (8 ounce) servings per day

Alcoholic beverages: up to 1 drink a day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men

Liquid or Empty Calories

In the United States about 20% of our daily caloric intake comes from beverages.  The Institute of Medicine recommends men have 13 cups (3 liters) of fluid every day and women have 9 cups (2.2 liters) of fluid every day. 

 Most experts now believe that part of the obesity problem in this country comes from the increased consumption of calorically sweetened beverages.  A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (April 2009 issue) suggests that cutting back on liquid calories may actually result in greater weight loss.  The study evaluated 800 adult men and women for fruit and beverage intake and weight changes.  The results were interesting:

Cutting 100 calories a day from liquid intake lead to about a 0.5 pound weight loss at 6 and 18 months

Cutting 100 calories a day from solid food intake lead to about a 0.1 pound weight loss at 6 and 18 months

Eliminating one 12 ounce sugar-sweetened beverage a day lead to the greatest weight loss = 1 pound at 6 months and 1.5 pounds at 18 months

 If you are trying to lose weight you must remember to count your liquid calories!!

Should you drink wine?

Is it healthier to drink decaffeinated coffee or tea?

Does grapefruit juice really interfere with some medications?

Can diet soda really make you fat?

Is grape juice as good as red wine in preventing heart disease?

Can vegetable juice help promote weight loss?

Is organic milk really healthier?

These are just some of the questions we answer in our eBook….

 The above is the introduction to our new eBook called “You are What You Drink: A Healthy Beverage Guide” available on smashwords at

This eBook contains information on the health benefits and adverse health effects of water, coffee, tea, milk, calorically Sweetened Beverages (soft drinks), non-calorically sweetened beverages (diet soda), fruit and vegetable juices, alcoholic beverages, sports and energy drinks, how to read a nutrition label on a beverage and lots more…

You can visit for more info (Cheers)

5 Tips to Lower Blood Pressure



 High blood pressure increases your risk for stroke and heart failure (weakening and enlargement of the heart muscle). About 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure in the United States. Medications of course can help to lower blood pressure and many adults need at least 2 or 3 different medications to control their blood pressure especially as they get older.

Here are a couple of lifestyle changes that can also help lower your blood pressure:

1) Low Sodium (salt) Diet – recommendation is less than 2,000 mg of sodium daily

2) Increase Potassium Rich Foods – recommendation is 4,700 mg of potassium daily. Good food sources of potassium include: Bananas, Dried beans, Tomatoes, Beef, Orange juice/grapefruit juice, Milk, Coffee, Potatoes, Kidney beans, Salmon/Halibut.

3) Exercise – Aim for 30 minutes 5 to 7 days every week

4)Weight loss (if overweight) or maintain healthy weight

5) Use fresh garlic (chop garlic and let sit for 15 minutes – this allows garlic to oxidize and gets converted to allicin which is the heart healthy part of garlic)

The goal blood pressure for all adult men and women is less than 120/80 (this includes adults taking blood pressure medications).

A recent Centers for Disease Control publication stated that ONLY ABOUT 30% of adults with high blood pressure have their blood pressure well controlled!!! This is an important health risk and you need to play an active role – follow the lifestyle changes listed above, monitor your blood pressure regularly, know your numbers, and discuss your blood pressure with your healthcare provider.

“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their blood pressure and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and heart failure. “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009. For more info visit

Potassium Can Help Lower Your Blood Pressure


 Sodium and potassium work in opposition of each other. When your potassium level is low your body retains sodium and water which can increase your blood pressure. If you increase your potassium intake in your diet you will excrete more sodium and water and this leads to a decrease in your blood pressure. Recent studies have shown that most adults are eating too much salt (sodium) and not enough potassium. The daily recommended amount of potassium for adults is 4,700 mg per day. We do not recommend potassium supplements or pills (unless you discuss this with your healthcare provider first) but encourage people to eat foods that are rich in potassium.

Good food sources of potassium include:


Dried beans



Orange juice/grapefruit juice




Kidney beans


For more info on how to lower your blood pressure visit

High BP in Black Children More Harmful


   black child   A study presented this month (May 2009) at the annual Pediatric Academic Society meeting found that black children with high blood pressure were more likely to develop heart problems than other racial groups. This study evaluated 139 children (under age 21) with high blood pressure, 60% of the black kids had an enlarged heart and 37% of the other children had enlarged hearts. High blood pressure is more frequently found in adults but can occur in children especially if they are overweight and do not exercise. High blood pressure that is not controlled can lead to permanent heart damage.

     Children need to be screened for high blood pressure (especially black children). When high blood pressure is identified lifestyle changes need to be encouraged in order to prevent early permanent heart damage. Weight loss, regular exercise and sodium restriction (less than 2,000 mg of sodium per day) can help children control their blood pressure.

Can Vegetable Juice Promote Weight Loss?


       vegetable juice     A recent study of 81 adults (mostly women who had the metabolic syndrome, which is “pre-diabetes”) reported greater weight loss when vegetable juice was consumed daily. People in this study who drank 8 ounces of vegetable juice daily lost 4 pounds over 12 weeks whereas those who followed the same diet but did not drink veggie juice only lost 1 pound.  All the participants followed the American Heart Association DASH diet.  The DASH diet recommends a high intake of fruits and vegetables, high fiber, low fat, low salt and low fat dairy.  The DASH diet is considered a low fat and low salt diet that can help control or prevent high blood pressure.

            This is a preliminary study and more research is needed but drinking “low salt” vegetable juice every day is a great way to increase your intake of vegetables and may help shed some extra pounds.

 For more info on the DASH diet visit

For more info on heart health and hypertension visit

Cutting Back on Salt Means More Than Getting Rid of the Salt Shaker


salt-shakerThe typical American diet contains approximately 5,000mg of sodium.  The current recommendations state that adults should eat less than 2,400 mg of sodium a day (that’s about a teaspoon of salt for the entire day).  People with high blood pressure and/or heart failure should limit their sodium to less than 2,000 mg per day.  Getting rid of the salt shaker from the table and avoiding adding salt to foods while cooking is the first step to decrease your salt intake.  But the majority of sodium we eat in a day comes from food processing – so reading food labels is a must!

The following food packaging  guidelines were developed by the FDA:

Sodium free or No sodium on a food label means the product contains fewer than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Low sodium labels mean there is 140 milligrams or less per serving.

Reduced sodium, lower sodium, and less sodium labels mean the usual sodium level in the product is reduced by 25%.

Lightly salted means there is 50% less sodium than is normally added to the product.

Unsalted, no salt added, without added salt labels means no salt is added during the food processing but the natural sodium of the product is present.

It’s important to read the food label, serving sizes and actual sodium content and not just the description on the front of the box.

For more heart healthy info visit