What do you know about "the silent killer"?

>> Thursday, May 6, 2010

High blood pressure - the silent killer.  How much do you know about it?  Did you know that up to 1 in 3 people have high blood pressure and only about 75% even know it?  High blood pressure, aka hypertension, often doesn't have any noticeable symptoms, but it can still wreak havoc on your body if not treated.  Side effects of untreated high blood pressure can include:

  • increased risk of stroke,
  • kidney damage,
  • coronary artery disease,
  • heart failure,
  • cognitive impairment,
  • and on and on.
Take a look at the website 1in3People.com for a very nice and easily digestible look at hypertension facts and risks.

Here's the good news...high blood pressure is preventable!

I recently had a chance to review a book geared toward people struggling with high blood pressure - Bringing Down High Blood Pressure by Chad Rhoden, M.D., Ph.D.  Now, I do not have high blood pressure, but I still found this book to be informative and useful.  I think that it's just as useful as a comprehensive guidebook for preventing high blood pressure in the first place.

The book starts with a chapter explaining the basics of blood pressure, what causes high blood pressure, and risks associated with it.  The scientist in me actually wanted more information in this chapter, but it gives a decent overview of the subject.  The author then quickly moves on to talking in depth about lifestyle changes that help many people bring their blood pressure down to normal levels.  Guidance on effective changes in diet and exercise is provided, including recipes.  (Take a look at the end for one of the recipes from the book.  There are actually quite a few good looking recipes.)  Stress management is discussed (though I would have liked to have seen more on this issue...it can be a weak point in my household).

And for those who still can't bring their blood pressure to a normal level using lifestyle tools, the role of medication is discussed.  Each of the major groups of blood pressure medication is presented along with what they do, cautions, and side effects.  This book is not the end all resource in discussing these medications, but I found the chapter on medications very useful in understanding the different types offered a little better.  Medication questions not answered in this book are better discussed with your doctor regardless.

There is even a chapter on alternative high blood pressure treatments - the good, the bad, the unproven, and the unsafe.  The author treats this chapter with a refreshingly open mind.  The focus is on using alternative therapies to compliment traditional ones.

Should you read it?  If you've been dealing with high blood pressure for a while and have it under control, it might not be anything new to you.  If you have recently been diagnosed with hypertension or are in the pre-hypertension category and are looking for a comprehensive resource to help you understand what is going on and what steps you can take to lower your blood pressure, I would recommend this book.  A lot of this isn't rocket science - sensible diet advice, exercise more, stress-reduction advice - but the book provides a plan for people to follow.

On to the recipe!  We made this recipe and really enjoyed it.  It makes a great light side.  The book has several other good looking recipes - like crispy edamame and omelet casserole.

Caribbean Sweet Potato Salad
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 cup corn
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 TBSP fresh lime juice
3 TBSP cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 TBSP canola oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts

Place sweet potato in a large saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, turn the heat down, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Once the potatoes are tender, add the corn kernels.  Cook another 30 seconds.  Drain in a colander and halt the cooking with cool water.

In a large bowl, mix together the mustard, lime juice, cilantro, and garlic.  Slowly whisk in oil.  Mix in salt and black pepper.

Add the dressing, cucumber, and onion to the sweet potato mixture.  Toss well.  Serve at room temperature or cooled.  Toss the peanuts in just before serving.

Serves 6

Many thanks to PTA Interactive who kindly provided a copy of the book Bringing Down High Blood Pressure for review.  All opinions expressed are my own.


Amy May 7, 2010 at 5:07 AM  

Nice review. It' a very timely book. High blood pressure is becoming so common. And interestingly enough, it's suprising how many people with high blood pressure have not been taught about controlling it without medication.

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