Has 2016's Presidential campaign sent your blood pressure through the roof?
This time of year tensions are always high when it comes to politics. Everyone becomes a political expert and sometimes it’s like walking on eggshells. However, regardless of your party affiliation, I think we can all agree that being the President of The United States is a pretty stressful job. So stressful that one can almost guarantee a high blood pressure diagnosis
Short term stress has been proven to show spikes in blood pressure readings as well as lead to negative behaviors such as: overeating, poor sleeping habits, and too much alcohol consumption - - - which all lead to high blood pressure and other health related problems
So, tell me. How does one with the most difficult, stressful, near impossible career in the world today stay so healthy? Easily the highest pressured job in the world today is being leader of the free world. President Obama, considering the events of the past eight years, has to have substantial hypertension.
...actually that's FALSE!
Obama has been deemed the United States healthiest President, with the blood pressure to prove it!
How to Manage Your Blood Pressure: The Presidential Way
So how does he do it?
Barack Obama is able to keep such healthy numbers due to his fitness regime he’s had in place since he was 22 years of age. He started out by running 3 miles and continues this practice to this day. His workouts include cardio and alternate resistance (strength training) programs. His daily routine is hitting the gym at 7:30 a.m. 6 days a week, never missing a single day. Changing up his cardio workouts and strengthening different parts of his body on certain days prevents his body from becoming used to the exercises and hitting a plateau.
After the age of 40, the human body becomes more susceptible to various diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and stroke. Workouts are the only way to maintain the proper functioning of your internal organs and Obama comprehends this fact very well. He understands how crucial it is to incorporate a fitness program, especially for those over 40. The results allow you to not only feel better, but look better as well.
Not only does Obama understand the importance of staying in shape, he’s also well aware of keeping his diet in check. The President has a strictly balanced diet incorporating foods rich in fiber, fresh vegetables, fruits and chicken. He maintains a healthy distance from junk foods. It also helps that Obama adores broccoli! He keeps protein bars and raw nuts handy for snacks post workouts and throughout the day.
Comparing your Blood Pressure
How does this relate to you, the average person? It shows that even the person who possesses the most stressful job in the world takes preventative measures to maintain healthy numbers. Those who relate their high blood pressure to job-related stress can’t overlook these results.
If you’re yielding high blood pressure results then take a note out of The President’s book. This doesn’t mean you have to wake up at 7:30 every morning like Mr. President, but it does mean that you should focus on living a healthier lifestyle. Make better eating choices and set up a schedule for a routine exercise plan. Considering Obama holds the most stressful job in the world, it’s not at all impossible to keep high blood pressure at bay.
Let’s compare those numbers with President Obama’s current numbers and the average person. This is a full breakdown of the President’s last overall physical exam which displays President Obama’s in better shape than most average people:
What is Blood Pressure:
So, what exactly is blood pressure, and what are the symptoms? We all know when we get our blood pressure taken, the doctor gives us two numbers. For example; 140/80. Two numbers that are written like a fraction. What do the top and bottom numbers mean? How do they relate to each other? What is good? What is not so good? Let's look at what blood pressure is and how the 2 numbers are broken down:
What is Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure?
Here's an example of a typical blood pressure reading and how it's broken down:
- 140/80 mmHg
- Read as "140 over 80 millimeters of mercury"
- Systolic - top number that is the higher number, measures the pressure of the arteries when the heart muscle contracts.
- Diastolic - bottom number that is lower, measures the heart muscle between beats when it’s refilling with blood.
Is the Systolic or Diastolic number more important?
When evaluating risk factors for cardiovascular disease, often more attention is given to the top number (systolic) as it is indicative of a problem. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term buildup of plaque, and increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.
Signs and symptoms of hypertension:
High blood pressure is largely asymptomatic, which means there aren't really any visible symptoms. This is part of the problem. Most people ignore regularly checking their blood pressure because there are no symptoms to alert you. Un-diagnosed high blood pressure is an extremely dangerous risk.
Everybody needs to be aware of their numbers and take preventative measures to halt the development of hypertension. Consider making lifestyle changes to prevent the development of hypertension (high blood pressure) and improve your heart health.
It’s very important to realize that a single high reading does not necessarily mean that you have hypertension. Your numbers can fluctuate, rise and fall, depending on your posture, exercise, stress, sleep, or if you’re in considerable pain from an injury. For an adult age 20 or over, it should normally be less than 120/80 mm Hg (less than 120 systolic AND less than 80 diastolic). It’s been studied that approximately one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure or hypertension.
However, if your readings remain consistently high, your doctor most likely will want you to begin a treatment program. Programs almost always includes lifestyle changes and often prescription medication for those with readings of 140/90 or higher. While medications certainly help, lifestyle changes are more important. Get your readings down, and you’re most likely be able to discontinue the medication and maintain a normal blood pressure naturally. Using preventative measures will help to keep your blood pressure within the normal range.
The Symptoms of Hypertensive Crisis:
When blood pressure readings rise to dangerously high levels, many obvious symptoms may occur. Blood pressure this high is known as hypertensive crisis, and emergency medical treatment is needed.
A person with extreme readings is in hypertensive crisis and may experience the following:
- Severe headaches
- Severe anxiety
- Shortness of breath
So it is important we find out how to recognize and diagnose high blood pressure. More often then not a hypertensive crisis will cause damage to your blood vessels and result in stroke. Visiting your doctor will allow for consistent monitoring that your physician can chart over time and look for abnormalities or alarming readings.
The American Heart Association recommends blood pressure screening beginning at the age of 20 once every 2 years. While monitoring your readings, the first one may be inaccurate resulting in higher numbers. In that case, your doctor or nurse will wait a few minutes and take it again. If your readings consistently produce high levels, it is recommended to seek immediate emergency medical services or EMS.
To reiterate, it’s vital for people to get checked regularly. The most important message here is that you can make changes to diet and lifestyle, which will have obvious effects on your lab results and overall health, without going on medication.
Unfortunately, statistics show that fewer than half of American men ages 45 to 64 visit a primary care physician for a checkup, which is crucial to catching health problems such as diabetes and various cancers while they’re still treatable.
Monitoring Your Blood Pressure From Home
More often than not our trip to the doctors every couple of months or so isn’t going to cut it. Monitoring your blood pressure at home, between visits, allows you to have an up to date reading at the tip of your fingers, or in this case...your upper arm!
Research has shown that monitoring blood pressure at home is easy and portable blood pressure monitoring device can be helpful in addition to regular monitoring your healthcare provider's office. Your doctor may recommend that you monitor your blood pressure at home for the following reasons:
- If you’ve been diagnosed with prehypertension
- You have been diagnosed with hypertension
- You have significant risk factors for high blood pressure
The American Heart Association recommends that all people with high blood pressure problems monitor their readings to aid their doctor in determining whether current treatments are working. It’s important to relay that home monitoring is not a substitute for regular visits to your physician. If you have been prescribed medication to help lower your blood pressure, do not stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor, even if your home monitor readings are within normal range.
Charting provides information about readings over time. Your doctor will want an accurate representation of what is happening within your arteries. While at the doctor’s office, the doctor gets one reading at that moment. This can cause discrepancies in the overall monitoring. Therefore, measuring over time and charting readings provides a more accurate and consistent picture. With your at-home blood pressure monitor, you can not only note the numbers, but also the situations that may have occurred before the readings and describe the emotional factors at the time of the reading. This type of recording is most beneficial to your doctors and his findings.
Routine recording can also help eliminate false readings. When in the presence of a doctor, you may feel anxiety, which can lead to higher readings (White Coat Effect), but this is only temporary due to the emotional factor at the time. The reverse can also be true. Normal readings at the office can occur, yet elevated readings outside of the office are prominent. These false, inconsistent readings can lead to misdiagnosis of high blood pressure.
Home monitoring can be especially useful for those implementing treatment for the first time to determine its effectiveness. Those with coronary artery disease, diabetes and/or kidney disease will most likely need closer monitoring than just intermittent office visits.
Also, during pregnancy risks for preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension) is high and blood pressure should be monitored frequently. High blood pressure risks increase with age, so it becomes growingly important to monitor our readings as we age.
Staying 1 Step Ahead
I can't stress enough that preventative measures are key for lowering your blood pressure or avoiding high blood pressure all together. Be sure to consult with your doctor about the best monitoring methods and remember if the guy who holds the most stressful job in the world can manage his health, so can you!