Health

High Blood Pressure Risk Factors

  • High blood pressure, hypertension, is a silent killer that makes the heart work harder. Hypertension can leave your arteries scarred and damaged, leading to ischemia and can even affect multiple organs if left untreated. Blood pressure is recorded using two numbers: systolic, the top number that measures the pressure during contraction, and diastolic, the bottom number that measures the heart’s pressure in between beats. The ideal blood pressure is 120/80. It is normal for blood pressure to fluctuate throughout the day while you rest, exercise and do your daily activities. It is important to assess your risks for hypertension as it can be caused by lifestyle or be a hereditary trait.
  • Women are at a higher risk for hypertension. Family history, weight and hormones can play a large role in developing high blood pressure. It is important to maintain a healthy balance, as weight and hormones can sometimes go hand in hand. Even being just 20 pounds overweight will increase your risk. Making our hearts work harder causes damage in the long run.

    Diet is another risk factor for developing hypertension. If you have high blood pressure, you should be on a low salt diet, as salt increases blood pressure. Eating clean and a well-balanced meal that is low in saturated fats and cholesterol can decrease your risk. Not only is it important to have a healthy diet to ensure that you are getting the proper nutrients but to also prevent health problems that can arise from your food choices. About 70% of the American population is considered overweight, which is why heart disease is so prevalent in the US.

    Your lifestyle can also lead you to have high blood pressure.  Decreasing alcohol consumption is also a great way to lower your risks, as well as smoking. Smoking narrows your blood vessels and increases your risk for ischemia (lack of blood flow) to your heart, brain or other organs. An excess amount of alcohol in our blood system will create an unhealthy blood pressure over time. Staying well hydrated is an important habit to create that will help keep your body healthy. When our body’s cells lack water, they signal to the pituitary gland to produce vasopressin, which constricts our blood vessels and can cause a terrible domino effect if you already have narrowing of the blood vessels due to atherosclerosis (plaque build-up).

    Cutting back on caffeine, losing weight (if needed), managing stress, getting a full night of rest, reducing sodium and eating potassium rich foods are a few way to lower your blood pressure naturally. You can also read this article on foods that are good for blood pressure.

    Sources

    https://www.goredforwomen.org/know-your-risk/factors-that-increase-your-risk-for-heart-disease/high-blood-pressure-heart-disease/

    Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

    Invisible Illnesses Unveiled – Eosinophillic Esophagitis

    Theresa Acker is a firefighter/paramedic and a bright, young woman. Women are often dismissed, especially if they are young and appear healthy. It’s more common to have an ailment blamed on stress or being emotional, regardless of how well a woman is balancing her stress, rather than being taken seriously. The cherry on the cake is when routine blood tests show a perfectly healthy, young woman. There isn’t a fighting chance when many health issues are not recognized through a basic blood panel. Once this is the case, it is time to throw on some boxing gloves and put up a fight. Theresa did just that.

    Being an advocate for your health is crucial for many. Not everyone always gets a very thorough doctor and most are trained on the average cases and solely focused on their specialty, which leaves a huge grey area. Researching and getting several opinions is always going to be your best bet.

    Eosinophilic Esophagitis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease of the esophagus. This can lead to difficulty swallowing, choking and food getting stuck while in a flare up.

    Interview

    What is your official diagnosis?

    I am diagnosed with Eosinophillic Esophagitis (EOE)

    How long have you been experiencing symptoms before getting answers?

    I experienced symptoms for approximately 2 years before getting diagnosed.

    How has this affected your relationships and work life?

    Luckily, my husband is extremely supportive and has even changed his own diet for me. As for friends and co-workers, I honestly don’t think they understand 100% and I feel as if some don’t care to. I feel as if they truly believe it’s some made up “picky eater” disorder but I’m lucky to have a handful of people in my life who actually acknowledge it and care.

    What advice do you have for anyone suffering with EOS

    Trust your body and get the help you feel is needed. Don’t let anybody or any doctor disregard your need for health care. A food impaction can be embarrassing but it could also lead to worse things. I always recommend seeking medical attention if you have any of the signs and symptoms, because in the long run, you could be causing more issues to your esophagus if left untreated. Not a lot of people or doctors are educated or even know what EOE is.

    What challenges have you dealt with in the process?

    A major challenge I have had to deal with would be my diet and to actually medicate. I was always the girl to eat everything in sight and love food and with the dysphagia that has changed. I’ve had to limit the types of food I eat, unfortunately. It’s also made it uncomfortable to go out and be the person with food restrictions and being afraid of choking in front of people.

    Also, I’m not huge on taking medication. I would rather try a more natural remedy so actually taking the medication is also hard for myself.

    What are the scariest or most difficult moments you have gone through because of EOE?

    Having impaction for hours. It is hard to breath and very painful.

    Favorite Quote:

    “Where ever you go, go with all your heart.”

    “With brave wings she flies.”

    Three things you can’t live without:

    I could never live without my family, my fur babies, or laughter.

    What are your health goals?

    My health goals are to feel like myself again, to not be sick and to not have the awkward fear of choking. I would love to not be on any medications for my GI issues.

    *Photos also by Misti Blu

    Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

    Unveiling Invisible Illnesses – Endometriosis

    Laura Kay Halcom from Rockledge, Florida is 1 of 10 who struggle with endometriosis, a painful disorder in which the tissue that grows on the lining of your uterus spreads to other organs like the fallopian tubes and ovaries. With no way to exit the body like normal menstruation, the tissue becomes trapped and causes pain, scaring, adhesions and fertility problems.

    Endometriosis is difficult to diagnose without an invasive procedure, a laparoscopy. Often times it will be misdiagnosed with IBS or deemed psychological. Symptoms can range based on severity but can cause nausea, low grade fevers, heavy bleeding, lower back pain, pelvic pain, painful intercourse, painful bowel movements and fatigue.

    Treatment usually starts with birth control hormones to try to regulate your cycle but unfortunately, some women are very sensitive to the hormones and don’t always respond to that treatment. Another option is an endometrial ablation, but it is not always suggested if you plan to have children. A hysterectomy is a final option but there are studies that it still is no cure and it is a rough surgery. If your endometrial tissue grows onto other organs, removing the uterus is not going to help. There are studies that nutrition can play a big role. An anti-inflammatory diet can help minimize symptoms.

    Avoiding gluten, red meat, sugar, caffeine and alcohol can help alleviate symptoms and inflammation. Having a well-balanced diet full of nutrients, antioxidants, fatty acids and iron rich foods is important. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory compound that you can take as capsules or sprinkle on your food. Having plenty of rest, staying hydrated and support will be your best friend for this diagnosis.

    Meet Laura

    What is your invisible illness?

    Endometriosis, Depression, Anxiety

    When and how were you diagnosed?

    Endo: June 2017 by laparoscopic surgery. It took 12 years and dozens of tests for me to be diagnosed. I have had anxiety & depression since I was 16.

    What were your struggles and fear after diagnosis?

    There is no known cause, and no cure. Now, the treatments of birth control and antidepressants are just making things worse. I also fear infertility.

    What advice do you have for anyone going through a new diagnosis?

    Be patient with yourself. Keep records of everything. Find your community of people struggling with what you are fighting. Talk about it. Educate yourself so that you can educate others.

    What are your goals and dreams in life?

    My goal is to finish my business degree. I want to be an educator and an entertainer. I dream of my own business, where I can express myself through art, music, and nature. I dream of adventure in far away places.

    Three things you cannot live without: Sunshine, hugs, and my heating pad!

    Favorite Quote:

    “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

    Endo Warrior Shirt