Before I retired, I worked many years as a Medical Examiner Forensic Investigator. These investigators conduct death investigations on the scene by examining the body, collecting and documenting the evidence for pathology doctors. A large portion of these investigations includes unusual natural deaths and suspicious deaths that most often results in an autopsy.
An unusual natural death is someone who collapsed suddenly and dies as a result of their medical history. And a suspicious death is a person found deceased with no medical history and no injuries. Other deaths investigated by the medical examiner includes homicides and accidental deaths which are self-explanatory.
However, one of the most common natural deaths investigated is a person diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure. But don’t be alarm, this condition is manageable and treatable with medication, exercise and a proper diet. During these type of investigations, most people diagnosed with diabetes often develops high blood pressure. Although, being diagnosed with just high blood pressure does not necessarily make you a candidate for diabetes. Which brings us to the question you’ve heard before, “Why high blood pressure is known as the silent killer”?
And the answer is really simple. A person having high blood pressure can often have minor or no symptoms. The symptoms maybe silent for many years especially if you’re not having yearly physical examinations. Then by the time you are diagnosed with high blood pressure there could be significant damage to your body by putting a strain on the heart, arteries and kidneys.
So what is high blood pressure? Commonly, known as HBP and hypertension, it is a condition in which the force of the blood against the artery wall is too high. A normal blood pressure range is 120/80 and a severe range is 180/120. If, you’re reading this and have a severe range, then you should stop immediately and contact 911 for emergency medical personnel. This type of severe range of high blood pressure can caused an immediate collapse if left untreated.
Throughout the years, I’ve investigated these type of deaths and I often ask other family members if they have HBP. And the usually response is, “Yes, and I’m taking prescribed medication.” Because if you have high blood pressure due to your family history then it’s very important to have yearly physicals and periodically check your blood pressure as you get older.
In these cases, I try to explain HBP in a way that most people understand.
For example, if you run your car without oil or water it’s going to run hot and unexpectedly stop at some point. Your car will blow a head gasket due to the high amount of pressure being built up in the engine and suddenly stop working. Similar with HBP, if you don’t provide your body with the proper nutrients, healthy diet, exercise, water or prescribed medications, the pressure in your artery walls may build up overtime and possibly cause a sudden collapse. And this is why high blood pressure known as the silent killer because it can be fatal.
What Are The Symptoms?
Sometimes the symptoms can be camouflaged as the usual chest pains and headaches due to possible stress. But what if it’s a combination of stress and high blood pressure, then it needs to be checked immediately. Therefore, in my opinion, if you have or are a candidate or HBP, then a monitoring device should be kept in your residence and at work. And because HBP is such a serious but manageable condition, I think employers should be required to equipped their offices with these monitoring devices due to the high stress levels of some career jobs. So let’s take a look at the list of symptoms below that you may have or experienced in the past.
- Chest pains
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Severe headaches
- Blurred vision
- Nose bleeds
What Are The Causes?
There are varies causes and most of them are preventable except for maybe genetics. But even with genetics high blood pressure is manageable with prescribed medications. This is why doctors always ask for your family medical history. So tell the truth about any symptoms you’re having so he/she can prescribe you the proper medications and recommend the appropriate healthy diet.
- Genetics (family history)
- Lack of Sleep
- Age, race and gender (Males are at greater risk for HBP)
- Diet high in fat, salt and high cholesterol
- Excessive drinking
As you can see from the list above most of those things can be avoided, but nothing gives us 100% immunity from HBP or any other condition. It is your responsibility to take care of your body by eliminating as many causes as you can. With high blood pressure known as the silent killer, this should incline you to remain vigilant of the symptoms at all times.
Ways To Improve Blood Pressure
I know this is the hard part, because some ways to improve your blood pressure are not fun or easy. But if you want to live longer and have a quality life without daily prescribed medications, then changing to a healthy lifestyle and diet should become a priority. Remember your life could depend on it because HBP can be a silent killer with no obvious symptoms if you don’t get regular check-ups.
Below, you will find many ways to improve your blood pressure.
- Less red meat
- Eat more whole grains
- Reduce sodium intake
- Drink less alcohol
- Learn to manage stress
- Eat dark chocolate (preferably 70-80% pure dark chocolate)
- Loose weight
- Eat more potassium-rich foods (bananas)
- Cut back no caffeine
- Quit smoking
- Reduce sugar intake
- Eat berries (blue berries)
- Get more sleep
Now, let’s talk a little about some topics above. Exercising is one of the best ways to improve your overall functions of the body including blood pressure. This should include a brisk walk at least three days a week for thirty minutes. However, if you have any serious medical conditions then always check with your primary care physician before starting any regular exercise routine.
Next, changing your diet. This probably will be one of the hardest task to achieve, but can be accomplished with some willpower and self-discipline. Limit eating red meat to once every two weeks. I know we all like a good steak, however eating it every week is simply not good for your body. But eating more green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and fruits are good for your high blood pressure. Think about it, drinking extra coffee, lattes and energy drinks only leads to ingesting more sugar that may cause obesity, high glucose and high blood pressure.
And another important way to reduce high blood pressure is reduce your stress level and get more hours of sleep at night. It’s recommended to get eight of hours of sleep every night but in certain careers it is almost impossible, so get at least 6-8 hours.
And last but not least, reduce your stress, limit your alcohol intake to 2-3 drinks a week, stop smoking cigarettes and get more hours of sleep at night. Remember the goal is to live longer and have a healthy lifestyle to avoid high blood pressure.
Always have a yearly physical with your primary physician and if prescribed any medication, take them as instructed by your doctor. In addition, purchase a high blood pressure monitoring device for your residence and ask your employer to provide one at work. These devices can easily be purchased at your local drugstores, Walmart, Target or Amazon.
Blood Pressure Monitoring Devices
There are several companies that make these devices however some of them don’t work as they should or they’re more complicated to operate. The three devices researched are found below to assist you in choosing one that is right for you and your budget.
The first, is the Omron series 5 and 10 blood pressure monitors. This company makes several series of these devices and the monitors has a 4 star rating. Also, this company had more sales and way more reviews than others. However, many of the reviews stated having issues with the device not having consistent accurate readings and were more complicated to operate.
Features: upper arm monitor with cuff, battery operated, fits regular and larger arms
Purchase Place: Amazon.com
Purchase Place: Walmart.com
Ratings: 4 stars
Product: Omron Series 10 Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor
Features: Bluetooth, large display with back light, upper arm monitor with cuff, battery operated, fits regular and larger
arms, A.C. adapter, memory storage with advance averaging.
Features: Upper arm monitor, battery operated, large screen, digital
Purchase Place: ‘ data-wplink-url-error=”true”>Paramed. According to the majority of the reviews, this device is outstanding and reliable. It is highly recommended by Nurses for its accuracy, easy set up, fast and reliable readings. However, it does not come with an A.C. adapter cord but the device has a USB port. Reportedly, this cord has to be purchased separately.
Features: Upper arm monitor for regular and larger arms with cuff, battery operated, has a pulse rate monitoring meter