Lower High Blood Pressure by Turning This Off!

by ProfKeith

Hypertension is a silent assassin that may give you no warning before shoving you violently into a life-threatening heart event. Since heart disease is the #1 killer in the world, finding natural ways to lower high blood pressure is critical to your health.

Many causes of high blood pressure – poor diet, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, smoking, substance abuse – are well known and well documented.

There is one area that is fairly new to scientific research that has a far greater impact than anyone ever imagined. Over the last ten years, chronic stress (and the out of control inflammation it stimulates internally) has been identified as a root cause of most major disease.

In those same ten years, one recently acknowledged source of chronic stress has spread faster than any Biblical plague of locusts.

It would be difficult to find adults (or young people) without a cell phone on their person. The United Nations states that 6 billion people have access to mobile phones and that’s more than the 4.5 billion people who have access to a working toilet.

According to U.S. Statistics from Pew Research Center

  • Approximately 67% of cell phone users check their phone constantly for notifications – despite not receiving a vibration or audible alert.
  • More than 44% of cell phone users sleep with their phone beside them so they don’t “miss” anything.
  • A whopping 29% of cell phone users are so dependent on their phones that they can’t imagine being without it.
  • At least 7% have no other means to access the internet without their cell phone.

I use my cell phone for business and personal tasks. I’m certainly not alone.

However, I’m still in the lower range of daily use compared to how some utilize their mobile devices. As are many of my colleagues who tell me it’s the best way to stay in contact with friends and family. They’re able to get photos, information, and even reminders of important life events such as birthdays and anniversaries.

For every person who uses the map feature to resolve being hopelessly lost, the email feature to send a forgotten follow up while on vacation, or uses the camera to snap a photo of something that must not be forgotten…there are others who cannot put their phone down for any amount of time without feeling something akin to panic.

I’ve watched people in restaurants obsessively look at their screens as if they might have missed something in the moments since they last checked.

As a human being, it makes me wonder about the mass “connection” of the human race despite the distinct isolation apparent in how people interact with one another. As a doctor, it makes me worry about the health and mental/emotional wellbeing of a person who can’t let go of their phone for even a small amount of time.

That’s one reason that cell phones are now classed as a growing addiction.

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Put It Down and Lower High Blood Pressure

Globally, hypertension affects more than one billion people. That statistic is considered low because many people who have it might not even know. The American Heart Association cautions every person to regularly check their blood pressure because sustained high blood pressure damages the tissues of your heart, arteries, and other organs.

You could literally have hypertension for years and not realize. The “symptoms” listed on websites are misleading because only a small portion of patients experience any at all.

By the time you realize, you could already be in crisis. For far too many, their first sign of needing to lower high blood pressure is a stroke or heart attack.

There are many places to check your blood pressure for free. Chain pharmacy locations and even big box stores that have pharmacies tend to offer a small monitoring station for anyone to use. Avoid taking your BP immediately after exercise, smoking, or drinking a large caffeinated beverage because it could give you the wrong reading.

Throughout the day, your blood pressure fluctuates. It will go up during a meeting with your boss or commuting home but lower if you’re enjoying time with your family or taking a relaxing shower. These fluctuations are normal.

What isn’t normal is sustained BP levels above 120/80. The first number is systolic. That’s how hard your blood is hitting the walls of your arteries with each beat. The second number is diastolic. That’s the pressure on your arteries in between beats.

If your reading is consistently higher than 140/90 then you already have hypertension.

Maintaining a healthy body weight, eating right, and getting regular exercise is critical but researchers with the University of Worcester think we might need to take our heart healthy routine a bit further and examine cell phone usage.

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Richard Balding, senior author of the Worcester study, explained, “Smart phone use is increasing at a rapid rate and we are likely to see an associated increase in stress from social networking.”

In another study conducted by doctors at Guglielmo da Saliceto Hospital, patients on cell phones could experience a dramatic jump in blood pressure from 121/77 to 129/82.

Simply from talking on the phone.

Tom Stafford with the University of Sheffield drew a correlation between gambling and cell phone use using the variable interval reinforcement schedule. “Rather than reward an action every time it is performed, you reward it sometimes, but not in a predictable way. With email, usually when I check it there is nothing interesting. Every so often, there’s something wonderful – an invite out or maybe some juicy gossip – and I get a reward.”

That’s going to keep your stress in a constant state of up and down, hoping for something great in a sea of inane texts, emails, and social media posts. To put it bluntly, that’s not good for your heart! If you haven’t checked your BP lately – I cannot urge you strongly enough to do so. You cannot address lowering high blood pressure if you don’t even know you have it!

Cell phone use is growing and access to cell phones is both a blessing and a curse. As with anything in life, moderation is key. Don’t sleep with it and turn it off when you’re relaxing.

A phone is supposed to make life easier but if you spend all your time staring at a screen, you might be missing a lot going on around you.

People and experiences are waiting for you in the real world. Happening right now.

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