Today, it seems like everyone has the same health problems.
Thinning hair, sluggish metabolism, the tendency to weigh a bit more than they should…
In fact, you’re probably used to saying, “Oh yes, I have [insert illness here] too!” or, “My mother/father had that, so I’ll probably get it. That’s life!”
With so many “illnesses” around, most of us don’t even worry about having high blood pressure anymore.
When the doctor tells us we have hypertension, we just think – oh, like everyone else.
STOP RIGHT THERE.
Hypertension should NOT be taken lightly.
It can send you down the path to memory loss, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are both major causes of cognitive decline, especially in older folk.
And, thanks to the number of people suffering from hypertension, both forms of dementia are on the rise.
The development of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia are both linked to blood pressure problems.
If you’re middle-aged and have high blood pressure, your risk is even higher.
When left untreated, high blood pressure can do irreparable damage to the blood vessels in your brain.
It causes them to narrow, which reduces the amount of blood that can flow from your heart to your brain.
Chronically elevated blood pressure results in the walls of blood vessels thickening, reducing their diameter.
Larger cerebral arteries also develop thicker walls and plaques, which ultimately narrows the vessels.
Imagine sucking an ice cream milkshake through a straw. If you use a nice wide straw, you’ll suck up loads of ice cream in one slurp.
But if you end up using a skinny little straw, you’ll find that hardly any ice cream gets into your mouth!
The problem with blood, of course, is much more serious. Blood is your brain’s ‘food’: it carries the nutrients, energy, and oxygen it needs to survive.
If that food and oxygen can’t get to the brain, millions of your precious brain cells can suffer.
Some may be damaged. Some may die.
Damaged brain cells simply can’t function as well.
They can’t carry out normal processes – such as memory, thinking, and learning.
In particular, the loss of CA1 pyramidal cells destroys your ability to remember new things.
It also severely impairs normal cognitive function.
Numerous epidemiological studies have identified hypertension as a major risk factor for the development of all types of dementia.
In a four-year study of 79,835 adults, those with a diastolic reading of 90 (mmHg) or higher were more likely to have impaired memory and cognition than those with normal readings.
The really scary thing is that you’re not always aware of high blood pressure.
Most of the time, there are no symptoms.
That’s why it’s REALLY important to know the risk factors.
So how can you prevent yourself from heading to the hypertension hell?
First things first: risk factors.
And number one is AGE.
The older you are, the higher your risk of high blood pressure.
Those aged 60+ are TWICE as likely to have high BP as those aged 49-50 years.
The next biggest risk factor is diet.
A huge number of foods that feature regularly in the Western diet are known to increase blood pressure: mainly due to their sodium content.
Sodium causes your body to retain extra water to order to filter the salt out.
Your blood pressure begins to rise as the extra fluid puts stress on your heart and blood vessels.
Race is another big risk factor.
High blood pressure is more common in African American adults than in Caucasian or Hispanic American adults.
African Americans tend to suffer from hypertension earlier in life, have higher readings and are less likely to reduce their blood pressure even with treatment.
Then there’s your weight.
Those who are overweight or obese have a far higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure.
Along with this is a lack of exercise, stress, and eating the wrong foods.
Now, you can’t change your age, genetics or race.
But you CAN change your lifestyle.
So, let’s talk about how to CUT your risk of high blood pressure – and save your brain!