Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Blood Pressure on Genes or Family History.

No one would ever have crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in a storm.

Have you ever heard someone say, "Well, it's in my genes, so I guess there's nothing I can do"? Too often, people feel that if their parents have high blood pressure or diabetes or heart disease, they are destined to have it as well. Fortunately, this is simply not true. Studies show that "bad genes" can be offset by the good effects of healthy behaviors, such as:

Being physically active
Eating well
Not smoking
Maintaining a healthy body weight

A study in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension reinforces this. Here's what we learn from the study:

Having a parent with high blood pressure does increase your chances of developing high blood pressure.
But being physically fit lowers your risk of developing high blood pressure.
Even if you have a family history of high blood pressure, you can make a big difference in lowering your chances of getting it - if you stay physically fit.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for developing a heart attack or stroke. The most common risk factors for developing high blood pressure include:

Age - The risk of high blood pressure increases as we get older.
Race/ethnicity - Although high blood pressure can develop in adults of all races and ethnicities, high blood pressure is more common in blacks.
Being obese or overweight
Too much salt in your diet
Stress
Alcohol use
Lack of physical activity
Family history
Other medical issues, such as kidney problems, thyroid problems or pregnancy
Lowering blood pressure or preventing high blood pressure from developing in the first place can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Even if one of your parents has high blood pressure, you still have the power to change your behavior and lower your own risk.

What changes can I make now?

Finding time to exercise and get physically fit can be challenging, but it's easier than you think. The official guidelines from the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease control suggest:

"Vigorous" physical activity for 75 minutes each week running, jogging or biking
OR

"Moderate" physical activity for 150 minutes each week walking or easy bike riding
If you cant reach these goals yet, dont worry. You have to start somewhere. Here are some tips:

Just move! Some activity is better than no activity.
Do an activity you love. Maybe you don't like to walk, run or do aerobics. So don't! Instead, take a dance class, ride your bike or climb the stairs at work during your lunch hour. Do you what you love and you will love what you do.
Book an appointment with yourself. Put an exercise appointment on your calendar. You wouldn't miss a doctor's appointment, would you? So why miss an appointment to get yourself healthy?

What can I expect looking to the future?

More research is showing that family history is an important predictor of disease. Despite this, research also is showing us that you have the power to change your behavior for the good to prevent disease.

Unfortunately, the health care system is set up to manage diseases after they develop. It is not designed to help you live healthy and stay healthy. But this is changing. Insurance companies are providing incentives for gym memberships. Large employers are offering wellness programs. Prevention of heart disease is becoming a greater focus as more of the population becomes obese or overweight and health care costs skyrocket.

High blood pressure remains a major cause of heart attacks and stroke. But you can reduce your risk by being more physically fit, even if high blood pressure runs in your family.

Diseases can be our spiritual flat tires - disruptions in our lives that seem to be disasters at the time but end by redirecting our lives in a meaningful way.