The National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored an important study which provided that the guideline for high blood pressure should be changed from 140/90 to 130 or higher for the first number and 80 or higher for the second number. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest changes to your diet and physical activity. If lifestyle changes don’t work, medicines can help. “Only about half the people in the country who have high blood pressure are controlled to recommended levels,” says NIH heart disease expert Dr. David C. Goff, Jr. “We could prevent a lot more heart attacks and strokes if more people had their blood pressure well controlled.”
It is probably a good idea for you to stop at the parish nurse blood pressure table from time to time to keep an eye on your blood pressure (every Sunday, 9:40-10:00am, across from Howell Auditorium).
The DASH eating plan (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) with low sodium, developed by the NIH, is considered by many to be the best overall diet with the potential to lower blood pressure as well as or better than many anti-hypertension medications. Its focus is on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins; it is also low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, calling for a reduction in high fat red meats, sweets and sugary beverages. Researchers funded by the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) developed the DASH plan to prevent and treat high blood pressure but the diet has also proven highly effective in lowering blood cholesterol. Previous research has shown that people who follow the DASH diet may be able to reduce their blood pressure by a few points in just 2 weeks. Over time, their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a BP reading) could drop by 8 to 14 points, which significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. The DASH plan with low sodium is not a fad diet, but instead a healthy eating plan which supports long-term lifestyle changes.
Another part of your heart health is to cultivate your faith life by:
- Praying at different times during the day.
- Making laughter and rejoicing a part of your life.
- Love yourself—the first step in loving your neighbor.
- Take some minutes each day for meditation or listening to the small voice within.
- Go for prayerful walks and rejoice at God’s creation. Pray as you are moving.
- Be thankful.
~ Marilyn Fleming, RN, MSN
For the Parish Nurses