KRON 4 | Eat These to Lower Your Stroke Risk

Strokes are afflicting more young Americans — it’s no longer a disease of the elderly and is the leading cause of death worldwide. Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and high blood pressure leads as the cause. Here’s how one particular change in your diet can reduce your risk.

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Strokes in Young People

The risk of stroke increases with age, but actor Luke Perry was only 52 when he had a massive stroke and died. When you’re younger (middle-aged) and have a stroke, it is especially dangerous. 

Immediately after a stroke, your brain swells (a.k.a. cerebral edema, brain edema, or elevated intracranial pressure). Swelling is your body’s response to many types of injury. 

Brain Compression

As you grow older, your brain shrinks which is a cause of memory problems and cognitive decline as you age. But when you’re younger and your brain swells after a stroke, there’s no room within your snug-fitting skull for expansion.

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A younger brain fits snugly within the skull and there’s little room for swelling.

As a result, your swelled brain presses up against the inside of your skull. A younger person will experience more intense pressure which can peak three to five days after a stroke. 

The pressure constricts blood flow to your brain and deprives it of oxygen while at the same time, it also blocks fluids from leaving your brain, so the brain swelling alone, can cause death.

NOTE: Sometimes the skull will have to be cut open and removed to relieve the pressure (decompressive craniectomy). A scope may also be used to drain cerebrospinal fluid or blood.

Strongest Risk Factors for Stroke

One in 3 U.S. adults has at least one of the following conditions or habits:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Overweight
  • Diabetes

Nitrates and Blood Pressure

Eating foods high in compounds called nitrates is a natural way to treat hypertension and reduce risk of a vascular event, such as a stroke or heart attack. Nitrates are vasodilators that widen (dilate) your blood vessels, and they protect against endothelial dysfunction.

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The juice from beet roots increased blood flow to the brain and lowered blood pressure.

Previous studies showed that drinking beet root juice dilated blood vessels and increased blood flow to the regions of the brain involved in executive functioning. In this study, 70+ year-olds ate a high-nitrate breakfast with 16 oz. of beet juice for four days.

Also, studies have shown that beet roots or beet root juice can reduce your blood pressure by up to 4-10 points over a period of a few hours. Beetroot juice lowered blood pressure 1 hour after drinking it with a peak drop in blood pressure occurring after 3 to 4 hours.

Healthy heartNOTE: If you’re a heart patient, you’re familiar with nitroglycerin and never leave home without it. Nitroglycerin or “nitro” is a heart medicine for angina* and belongs to a group of medicines called nitrates. As a vasodilator, it dilates the blood vessels and increases the supply of blood and oxygen to your heart.

*Angina is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. Pain can also occur in the jaw, neck, throat, shoulders, arms, or back.

Green Leafy Vegetables — The Powerful Protector   

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KRON 4 | Are You Susceptible to Stress?

Stressed

Have you ever wondered why some people deal better with stress while you suffer from its unhealthy effects, e.g., weight gain, frequent headaches, high blood pressure, heart disease, forgetfulness, frequent colds, and neck/back pain to name just a few?

Where Stress Begins

Stress is encountered in almost every aspect of your life and is a major cause of not being able to stick to a healthy eating and exercise plan. But the degree in which people experience stress lies in their attitudes. Do you tackle life with a positive outlook or are you easily defeated? 

If you possess any of the following nine attitudes or issues, you could be the source of your own stress. Are you…

Impatient – If you’re impatient, You are critical of how others perform. You expect others to work, walk, drive (you name it) faster. If other people don’t meet your lightning speed standards, you boil over inside and are never at peace.

A perfectionist – If you’re a perfectionist, you strive to be perfect in all the things you do. Since it’s not possible to be “perfect”, you often feel anxiety, disappointment, pressure, and a sense of failure.

Always ‘on the go’ – If you’re unable to relax, you’re always working and jumping from one project or chore to another. You never stop to relax and calm your body and mind. This builds up to what’s called a “deadly stress momentum”. It’s not the act of keeping busy that causes your tension and angst, it’s when you continually push yourself that builds stress.

Powerless – If you’re in a role, whether at home or at work, where your feelings or opinions are not respected or heard, you feel unimportant and thus, feel an inner contempt. Practice asserting yourself to diminish your susceptibility to stress.

Angry crazy designer yelling and crumpling paper on his workplace

Angry and explosive – If you’re angry, you’re often loud, explosive and mad about people and things. You may have heard it’s good to “let go” of your feelings and not let them build up inside, but there are more constructive ways to control your anger before it controls you.   Continue reading “KRON 4 | Are You Susceptible to Stress?”

KRON 4 | Heart Attack Predictor: A Third Blood Pressure You Need to Know

Ever wonder what your blood pressure numbers mean? Here’s an explanation using a water faucet and pipe to demonstrate. And now there’s a THIRD pressure that’s important to your overall health and is worth monitoring as well.

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What’s Your Pulse Pressure?

Pulse pressure is the numeric difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

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Predictor of Heart Attacks and Cardiovascular Disease

A resting pulse pressure in sitting position in healthy adults is about 30-40 mm Hg. For adults over age 60, especially men, a pulse pressure higher than 60 can be a useful predictor of heart attacks or other cardiovascular disease.

  • A greater pulse pressure indicates that your vessels are stiffer and more damaged.
  • If the aorta becomes rigid, such as from atherosclerosis, a.k.a., “hardening of the arteries”, your pulse pressure would be very high.
  • Per a meta-analysis of several studies of 8,000 elderly subjects, the combined results found that a 10-point increase in pulse pressure increased the risk of major cardiovascular complications and mortality by nearly 20%.

NOTE: A low pulse pressure (i.e., 25 mm Hg or less) may mean aortic valve stenosis or congestive heart failure where a low volume of blood is ejected per beat.

Causes of Arterial Stiffness 

The most important cause of an elevated pulse pressure is arterial stiffening, in particular, stiffness of the aorta (the largest artery in the body). Arteries stiffen with age, just like tissues in your skin, lungs, heart, tendons, and joints, due to:

  • Degeneration of elastin fibers
  • Stiffer collagen
  • Fatty deposits damaging the arterial walls and resulting in them being less elastic (atherosclerosis)

Results of Arterial Stiffness 

  • Your heart enlarges. When arteries stiffen and lose their elasticity, your heart must contract more forcefully with each heart beat in order for your blood to circulate adequately. The extra work that your heart must perform can lead to physical changes in the musculature of your heart (e.g., size and shape), specifically the lower chambers (the ventricles). It’s just like how your biceps get bigger that occurs when you exercise them harder.
  • You’re prone to irregular heart beats (cardiac arrhythmias). If the remodeling also affects the upper chambers (the atria), it can disrupt the electrical pathways that generate the signals telling your heart when to contract.
  • You’re at a higher risk of a heart attack and stroke. The cause of most cardiovascular events and cerebrovascular accidents is the growth and eventual rupture of arterial plaques.

Which Is the Better Pulse Pressure?

160/120 mm Hg OR 110/70 mm Hg? (The pulse pressure in each pair = 40 mm Hg.)

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Answer: 110/70
Higher systolic and diastolic pairs imply higher risk of heart attacks and heart disease

Can Atherosclerosis (Coronary Artery Disease) Be Reversed?   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | Heart Attack Predictor: A Third Blood Pressure You Need to Know”

The #1 Biggest Mistake That Affects Blood Pressure Readings

Blood pressure_dollarphotoclub_15479127_600x400Have you ever had your blood pressure taken and were surprised to discover that it was higher or lower than you expected? Did you know that simple variations can cause your blood pressure reading to deviate between 5 and 50 points? Beware… the most common error when measuring blood pressure is improper blood pressure cuff size.

Whether you take your own blood pressure at home or rely on a clinician to do so, using the wrong size cuff happens frequently. Since your blood pressure reading predicts your risk of stroke, heart disease and renal failure and assesses your need for hypertensive medications, you want to be sure the reading isn’t artificially low or elevated.

Why Cuff Size Matters

An essential part of measuring a blood pressure involves compressing the artery, so that no blood flows through it. The “cuff” is the part that wraps around your arm and the bladder inside inflates to apply the compression. It is CRITICAL that the cuff is the right size.

When the Cuff is Too Small

BP Cuff_AdultWhen the cuff size is too small, your blood pressure will be artificially HIGH — and can deviate by as much as 50 mmHg. This happens because the undersized cuff may not be able to completely close off the artery. It has to inflate a lot and you’ll get a higher reading. The result: a false diagnosis and over-treatment. It’s not uncommon that some obese people are incorrectly diagnosed with high blood pressure when it is actually normal.

When the Cuff is Too Large

Large BP CuffWhen the cuff size is too big, your blood pressure will be artificially LOW — but may not deviate as much as from the error of using a cuff that’s too small. It will read low because the bladder in the cuff will overlap (covering more than 100% of your arm), so the cuff ends up inflating on itself. In other words, it will cut off the supply of blood too easily and you’ll get a lower reading. Taking your blood pressure with a cuff that’s too large is dangerous because you and your doctor may think your blood pressure is normal and not as high as it actually is.

NOTE: When you’re exercising, your blood pressure is expected to rise, but the wrong size cuff could produce a reading that’s low or too high which could be problematic and symptomatic of cardiovascular disease.

Why This Mistake Occurs So Frequently

Using the wrong size cuff is mainly due to a laxity in protocol and/or by the clinician or a lack of emphasis on proper blood pressure cuff sizing in medical training. As a result, neglecting cuff size becomes the standard practice in the everyday work environment, i.e., in doctors’ offices and in both outpatient and inpatient hospital facilities.

Measuring for Cuff Size

Measuring tape

Use a flexible measuring tape (not metal) and measure the circumference of your arm at about the midpoint between your shoulder and elbow. (Allow your arm to relax and hang down at the side of your body.) If you don’t have a measuring tape, you can also use a piece of string or ribbon. Your cuff size will be determined by your arm size.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: After measuring your arm, MEMORIZE ITS SIZE! Whenever you get your blood pressure taken, ask the clinician the cuff’s range (it’s printed on the cuff).  Blood pressure cuffs do not come in uniform sizes, so you have to know your arm size. You may be an Adult Small in one cuff, but that could vary depending on the manufacturer.

Up Next! … “10 Factors That Can Affect Blood Pressure Readings(i.e., arm position, posture, and your bladder)