Archive for December, 2006

Alcohol and High Blood Pressure- A potentially dangerous combination?

Posted in Blood Pressure Reduction on December 28th, 2006

Do you enjoy wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages on a regular basis?  Do you drink a moderate amount of alcohol, or do you go over your limit?  Do you even know what the moderate amount is?  If you are not sure if you are exceeding a healthy alcohol limit, you could be putting yourself at risk of developing a number of dangerous health conditions such as high blood pressure.

How can alcohol affect blood pressure?  The answer to this question is still unknown, even though medical research has discovered that drinking alcohol excessively can cause blood pressure to rise.  That being said, it has also been found that regularly drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can actually help keep the body healthy and protect it from heart disease and stroke; conditions linked to high blood pressure.

Drinking in moderation
Before we get into how excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure, first we’ll take a look at what is considered to be moderate drinking.  Drinking alcohol moderately is different for both men and women:

Men - 2 alcoholic drinks per day is considered sufficient for men up until the age of 65.  After 65, men should drink the moderate intake recommended for women.

Women - 1 alcoholic drink per day is considered sufficient for women.

A single drink is the equivalent of:
• 12 oz. of regular beer or lager (1 bottle or can)
• 5 oz. of wine (1 standard glass of wine)
• 1 oz. of spirits (1 shot of spirits)

If you are over exceeding the amount of alcohol that is considered sufficient for you on a regular basis, it is highly likely that your alcohol consumption is having a negative affect on your blood pressure and overall health.  In this case, it is imperative that you cut back.  By decreasing alcohol intake and drinking in moderation, a previous heavy drinker can actually lower their diastolic blood pressure by 1-2 points and their systolic blood pressure by 2-4 points.

People who drink alcohol excessively can raise their blood pressure to unhealthy levels.  Not only that, alcohol is also high in calories and can increase your weight.  Furthermore, if you are taking blood pressure medication, alcohol can increase the negative side effects of these meds.

On the other hand, if you are drinking moderately, the alcohol you ingest should not be having an affect on your blood pressure.  That being said, if you frequently indulge in binge drinking (drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in one sitting as is common on the weekend), drinking moderately on a regular basis can also increase your blood pressure.

Can people with high blood pressure still drink alcohol? 
Yes - The average person with high blood pressure and has no other complications can drinking alcohol as long as they stay within the recommended limits, even if they are on blood pressure medication.
No – Someone who has a damaged liver, is an alcoholic, has heart disease, or has already suffered a stroke, should not drink alcohol.

It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about whether or not moderate alcohol consumption is safe for you.  It’s also imperative that you have your blood pressure checked at least once a year by your doctor, at the local clinic, or any place that provides you the opportunity.  It is a simple, fast and painless procedure that can give you peace of mind. 

If you should discover you have high blood pressure, you can then take the right actions to help you avoid the serious complications associated with the condition.

For more information about the causes of and treatment for high blood pressure please Click Here.

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Sleep Disorders Linked to High Blood Pressure?

Posted in Blood Pressure Reduction on December 14th, 2006

A good diet, proper exercise, and relaxation techniques can keep your blood pressure at a normal, healthy level. But there’s something else that can increase it without you even knowing about it: sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which the patient stops breathing many times while sleeping. It occurs in the deepest and most restful phase of sleep, the rapid eye movement (REM) phase. Your body basically “forgets” to breathe for 10 or 15 seconds, then reacts to the sudden lack of oxygen by jolting your respiratory system back into action. When this happens, it jars your sleeping, too, and you have to start over in the “light sleep” phrase. This constant interruption to the deep, restful REM sleep means that when you wake up in the morning, you don’t feel like you got enough sleep — because you didn’t! Not high-quality, restorative sleep, anyway.

So what’s the connection between sleep apnea and hypertension? It long ago passed the common sense test — obviously, brief periods of stressful near-asphyxiation can’t be GOOD for your heart. And in recent years, studies have begun to show a strong, provable, medical link between the two as well. Sleep apnea puts undue stress on the blood vessels. During an apnea incident, the sudden drop in oxygen levels forces your heart to work overtime to move the remaining oxygen around your system. This means an increased heart rate as well as increased blood pressure.

What’s worse, this is happening at night, when you’re asleep — the time when your body is supposed to be relaxing and repairing itself. If your blood pressure is constantly spiking during the night when you’re at rest, it’s not likely to settle down to a normal level during the day, when you’re actually up and around and exerting yourself. If your heart can’t rest when you’re asleep, when can it?

The dangers of high blood pressure are well known. But even without that, sleep apnea can be harmful in and of itself. Not getting enough restful sleep means being drowsy during the day, which can lead to poor job performance and falling asleep while driving. It leads to irritability, depression, headaches, and impotence, too. The additional strain on your heart during the night can also lead to strokes and heart attacks.

It’s estimated that 15 million Americans have sleep apnea, 75 percent of them men and 90 percent of them undiagnosed and untreated. Since the subject usually doesn’t know that he’s almost waking up constantly during the night, he may not realize he has sleep apnea. Some indications are daytime drowsiness, foggy memory, difficulty concentrating, waking up with headaches, sore throats or extremely dry mouth, and excessive sweating while sleeping. Most sleep apnea patients snore, too, and your bedmate can tell you if your snoring is irregular or if it sounds like you sometimes stop breathing altogether.

If you suspect you may suffer from sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about being tested at a sleep research facility. Sleep apnea is treatable, and doing so is vital to your overall health and well-being. Hypertension is just one of the many problems it can cause.

For more information about the causes of and treatment for high blood pressure please Click Here.


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Biofeedback for Blood Pressure - The facts

Posted in Blood Pressure Reduction on December 7th, 2006

Biofeedback is a system that provides you with real-time information about your body — blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and skin temperature, for example — on the theory that if you are aware of this information, you can control it. You’re not usually aware of your heart rate, for example, so you may not know if it’s too high. Biofeedback makes you cognizant of it, thus allowing you to take measures to regulate it if necessary.

In recent years, people have begun to use biofeedback as a means of lowering their blood pressure. A biofeedback device called Resperate, helps people relax by slowing their breathing, which in turn reduces hypertension. There are other things you can do, too, that involve keeping tabs on your blood pressure and responding accordingly to keep it in check.

First is something called autogenic training, which involves learning to control body conditions such as muscle tension, heart rate, and blood flow. Much of this involves a mind-over-matter attitude. By seeing your blood pressure go up (through a monitor you can use yourself), you can identify the stressors that are causing it to happen. Then, having identified the things that cause your blood pressure to rise, you can take steps to overcome them, either by eliminating the stressors or learning to deal with them positively.

There is ample information on the Internet about autogenic training, including many stress-reducing exercises you can do from your desk or at work.

Another way to deal with hypertension through biofeedback is “temperature training.” Some research indicates that the temperature of your finger is an accurate indicator of your blood pressure. High stress causes your finger temperature to drop as the fight-or-flight response sends blood quickly away from the extremities and toward the vital organs. This means an increase in blood pressure — thus, lower finger temperature equals higher blood pressure.

There are devices you can buy that monitor your finger temperature. Then, with relaxation techniques and stress management, you can lower your blood pressure, which will manifest itself in a higher finger temperature.

These techniques usually won’t help people with extreme hypertension. Those who can benefit from biofeedback include people with normal-to-slightly-high blood pressure or mild hypertension, and those with a family history of high blood pressure who want to take preemptive measures against getting it themselves.

It should be stressed that while biofeedback and relaxation techniques can be helpful in reducing blood pressure, they are not to be substituted for a healthy diet, regular exercise and whatever medication your doctor has prescribed. Biofeedback should be in addition to those things, not instead of them. As a medical technique, biofeedback has proponents and detractors. It’s certainly not going to hurt your health, but it may not always help it, either.

To find a biofeedback practitioner near you, visit http://www.resourcenter.net/Scripts/4Disapi6.dll/4DCGI/resctr/search.html and enter your state. The database will then pull up a list of all the practitioners, along with contact information for them so you can find one suitable for your needs.

For lots more information about treating high blood pressure naturally please Click Here.


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