How To Deal With Hypertension
Even if you’ve never had high blood pressure (hypertension), you’ve probably had your blood pressure checked numerous times throughout your life. You typically get checked every time you visit the doctor’s office.
This is because high blood pressure is so prevalent among adults today that doctors want to keep an eye on everyone to make sure their blood pressure is normal. Plus, the lack of symptoms that accompany high blood pressure makes it almost impossible to know whether you have it without being tested.
If you’ve never had any comments about your blood pressure measurements, it might be because you’re in the slight minority of people who have natural protection from high blood pressure. According to new research from the DNA Company, approximately 48% of people have the optimal version of a gene that protects them against high blood pressure.
Sadly, this means about 52% of people have little to no genetic protection against high blood pressure. For these people, it’s especially important that they manage their lifestyle properly so they don’t suffer from the problematic conditions that can stem from hypertension. By understanding your DNA you will have a better idea of what exactly is contributing to the high blood pressure and can then make more personalized lifestyle changes to improve this.
What is high blood pressure?
The term blood pressure refers to the pressure that happens when your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries. When this pressure is higher than normal, it’s called high blood pressure or hypertension.
High blood pressure can either be primary or secondary. If it’s primary, it means the cause is unknown but is likely related to your diet and lifestyle. If it’s secondary, it could be the result of one of several different medical conditions, including sleep apnea, kidney problems, and thyroid problems. Your high blood pressure could also be caused by high cholesterol, which is your body’s response to inflammation in the arteries.
High blood pressure can eventually lead to numerous issues, including heart, brain, and kidney disease. That is why your blood pressure needs to be closely monitored once hypertension is discovered.
When getting a blood pressure reading, there are two different metrics that are measured. Both are measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The first is systolic pressure, which is the pressure in your arteries as your heart contracts. The second is diastolic pressure, which is the pressure in between heartbeats.
Looking at your numbers, you’ll see systolic pressure on the top and diastolic pressure on the bottom. Normal blood pressure is less than 120 over less than 80. Elevated blood pressure is 120-129 over less than 80. Stage 1 hypertension is 130-139 over 80-90. Stage 2 hypertension is more than 140 over more than 90. Hypertensive crisis, which requires immediate medical intervention, is more than 180 over more than 120.
The Role Of Your Genes In Managing Blood Pressure
There are several genes that are involved in managing your blood pressure. The main one is called the NOS3 gene, which is responsible for dilating and constricting your blood vessels. Having the optimal version of this gene allows your blood vessels to expand to accommodate the increased flow of blood when you exercise. It also gives you more nitric oxide availability, which can help your blood vessels widen.
If you’re part of the 52% of people who don’t have the optimal version of the NOS3 gene, your blood vessels do not properly dilate when your blood flow increases. This often leads to high blood pressure and additional stress on your heart and kidneys.
I often tell clients who have this profile that they need to change how they exercise and avoid high intensity cardio for extended periods of time because their arteries are not flexible enough to handle that. Instead they need to lower the intensity for steady state or look at doing more interval training so there are periods of recovery time allowing their blood pressure to drop down again.
Another gene that plays a role in managing blood pressure is called the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) gene. As might be expected, this gene corresponds to the ACE enzyme, which manages both blood pressure and salt reabsorption. Having the more active version of this enzyme results in increased salt retention and increased blood vessel constriction, which heightens the risk of hypertension.
Aside from the NOS3 gene and the ACE gene, there are a few other genes that indirectly influence your blood pressure. These include the genes that impact your sleep patterns, anxiety levels, and diet. A full genetic test will give you a more complete picture of your genetic risks–and best of all then you will know what to do about them.
How To Lower Blood Pressure
If you are genetically predisposed to have high blood pressure, it’s important for you to take preventative measures so you don’t end up with a life-threatening disease. Your doctor may prescribe some medications for you to take for hypertension.
Other than that, here are some things you can try in order to lower your blood pressure:
- Have a weight-loss goal and take healthy steps to reach it
- Remove processed foods and high-sodium foods from your diet
- Invest in a device that measures your blood pressure at home
- Add organic olive oil to your meals every day
- Stop drinking during happy hour and while preparing meals
- Quit smoking (you can do it!)
- Disengage from work email after dinner for quality R&R
- Start a habit of meditating in the evenings
- Try supplements such as vitamin D, magnesium, grape seed extract, and berberine
Are you wondering whether you’re genetically predisposed towards high blood pressure, especially if there is a family history of it? The best way to find out is by decoding your genes through my DNA testing.
You’ll discover whether you have a higher risk of hypertension, the specific reasons behind that risk as well as 37 other custom reports surrounding sleep, diet, nutrition, hormones, fitness, cardiovascular health, immunity, and behavior.
Each custom report includes your genetic tendencies as well as practical steps you can take to optimize your health and wellness. If you would like to learn more about DNA testing then click here to watch a replay of the webinar I did with the CEO of the company whose DNA tests I am using. Alternatively you can book a short Assessment call to speak with me about this.