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High Blood Pressure and Sodium

According to the CDC 1 out of 3 Americans have hypertension or high blood pressure, approximately 75 million adults. Only about half of those adults have their blood pressure under control. Hypertension is often called “the silent killer” due to the devastating effects it has on many parts of the body but most importantly the arterial walls. Arteries are the highways in the body carrying oxygen rich blood to every single part, they are elastic and able to change pressure in specific areas in less than a second to accommodate the ever changing human body. Arteries can wear out their elasticity when being frequently stretched out just like an elastic waistband. This can lead to a multitude of medical issues and become fatal if not controlled.

What causes our blood pressure to spike? Stress, pain, emotions, caffeine; but most are surprised to learn that even a small amount of sodium can increase your BP. If you are someone who eats only minimal salt on their food and no processed foods your BP is most likely well controlled unless you have underlying kidney disease. Unfortunately if you are someone who typically eats a high sodium diet, frozen meals, processed foods, or worst of all fast food then you are surely causing your blood pressure to spike throughout the day. This causes the arteries to lose their elastic quality which can lead directly to kidney disease, heart disease, and strokes. There are 2 kinds of strokes, an ischemic stroke is where a small piece of plaque flakes off the artery wall and goes until it can no longer pass through the vessel. A hemorrhagic stroke is when an artery that has been stretched too many times in the brain gets a sudden BP spike and basically has a blow out much like a tire. The problem is the blood has nowhere to go inside the skull causing a life threatening emergency to relieve the pressure and stop the bleeding.

I challenge everyone to see for themselves, take your BP and then eat a small bag of some salty snack, chips, pretzels, peanuts. Wait about 5 minutes and check your BP again. If your pressure changes by more than 5 points on the top (systolic) or bottom (diastolic) numbers you should seriously start limiting your sodium intake. It could literally save your life.

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