Crunching the Numbers: Sodium and Blood Pressure
When you’re sick and scared, all those numbers floating around your doctor’s office can be confusing. But there is one number you should listen for: your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is a little high, your doctor may suggest cutting down on salt, but he may not have time to explain why. Let us explain.
Your blood pressure reading may be 150/80 mm Hg. That first number is your systolic pressure, or the blood pressure measured when your heart muscle contracts. The second number is your diastolic pressure, which happens when your heart is relaxed.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, happens when the blood moving through your artery walls moves faster and harder than normal. Imagine the damage a high-pressure stream of water could do by pounding through a thin, delicate hose; after a while, those artery walls can weaken and lead to heart disease or even a heart attack.
Too much salt, or sodium, can cause our bodies to retain too much water– and as too much fluid moves through the body, it causes pressure to increase inside those same artery walls. In people who eat or drink too much sodium day after day, and retain too much fluid, that blood pressure builds up and never gets the chance to go back down.
The latest US Dietary Guidelines suggest all Americans consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, and for those at risk for high blood pressure, kidney disease, or diabetes, that recommendation goes down to 1,500 mg. One teaspoon of salt contains 2,000 mg of sodium, and most prepared foods already have a few grams of sodium in them already.
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What Physicians Are Saying:
“I have referred many of my patients to the Delicious Dietitian for dietary counseling. They have had much success with weight loss, increases in their energy and some have even been able to cut back on their medications.”
What Patients Are Saying:
“My blood pressure was really high. I thought cutting back on salt meant cutting out all my family’s favorite foods, and it was easier to just take the pills. When I lost my insurance, I decided I had to do something. The Delicious Dietitian showed me how to cook food my family loves and my blood pressure has already gone down 10 points!”