Letters to TMT Health

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Fri 3rd Aug, 2012

Dear Editor,

I am really depressed. My girlfriend of six years left me claiming that I did not seem ready to commit, which is not true. I have been taking anti depressants and been indoors for as long as I can remember. I drink a lot and I have added a lot of weight. My doctor recently told me that if I am not careful I could end up having hypertension. Now, is this hypertension related to my weight gain or my depression? How can I lower it then?

Christoph, Dachau.

Dear Christoph,

Thank you for your Email. Sorry to hear about your girlfriend. If you still love her and would like to commit, go ahead and tell her. Maybe it is not too late. Besides, you will save yourself a lot of unnecessary pain. Hypertension is common in people who are overweight or obese, as the fat blocking the arteries forces the heart to work harder to pump blood. High blood pressure could be systolic, which means the top number is 140 or above, or diastolic, which means the bottom number is 90 or above. You may need to lower your blood pressure as quickly as possible and you could do that without using medication.

To reduce your pressure significantly, lose weight. Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Excess weight puts a great deal of strain on the body, especially the cardiovascular system. In addition, without proper exercise, the heart weakens and cannot pump blood as efficiently. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help reduce your blood pressure. As a matter of fact, blood pressure medicines are more effective when you lose weight. Particularly keep an eye on your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure. In general, men should aim at having a waist measurement of less than 40 inches (102cm) and women 35inches (89cm).

Secondly, exercise regularly. Exercise keps blood pressure down for nearly twenty four hours. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, will act to quickly lower blood pressure. Besides, when you exercise regularly, you are going to lose weight, taking you back to our first point.. Regular physical activity can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

Thirdly, eat a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. This could lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg. Certain foods, such as dark chocolate, garlic can quickly lower blood pressure. Make sure that the chocolate has a minimum of 70% of cocoa the active ingredient that will lower the blood pressure. Cocoa has antioxidant-rich compounds called flavanoids, which help dilate blood vessels and assist in glucose metabolism.  Remember, however, that only a small portion needs to be consumed. Eat potassium-rich foods like sardines, salmon, raisins, potatoes, organs, pears, legumes, beets, bananas, carrots, and apricots. Potassium helps maintain electrolyte balance, which regulates heart beat through muscle contraction.

Consume less salt. Reducing the amount of sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg. Choose low sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy. Besides consuming less sodium, drink enough water. Water will not only flush out excess salt, it also protects cells.  Dehydration causes rises in blood pressure. Reduce the amount of caffeine you drink every day, as caffeine stimulates your body to work harder to provide you with more energy. Caffeine could be good for you in small quantities, but it can raise your blood pressure if you consume too much.

The fifth point on how to reduce pressure is by moderating your alcohol intake. If you take a small amount, it can potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm Hg. However, if you drink too much, that protective effect is lost. Women and men older than age 65 should limit their drink to a glass a day, whereas those of age 65 and younger should limit theirs to two. If you do not normally drink alcohol however, it may be a good idea not to start drinking as a way to lower your blood pressure. There is more potential harm than benefit to drinking alcohol. We wish you all the best, Christoph, and remember if you decide to get her back it may be to your advantage if you looked good. Start going outdoors, doing some exercise, eating well, and reduce your alcohol intake. Not only will you lower your blood pressure, you might win the love of your life back!

Yours Faithfully,

Editor, TMT Health.

To our readers, if you have any questions you would like to see addressed in our weekly newspaper, send in your questions to christine.wandolo@themunicheye.com and we will be pleased to answer you.  

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