Dietary and lifestyle interventions, without question, are the most challenging with regard to compliance for all patients. However, tackling the very patterns of behavior that have contributed to onset of a disease state is essential when reestablishing a health-promoting homeostasis. The maintenance and protection of the 60,000 miles of blood vessels that include 18,000 miles of capillaries are governed by what a person eats and how much that person exercises. Both a healthy diet and a consistent exercise routine are important keys to preventing and controlling hypertension. In a randomized and multicenter study published in 2004 of more than 800 patients, the group that was involved in increased physical activity, weight loss, and decreased sodium and alcohol intake had its baseline rate of hypertension cut by more than half.3 Moreover, a recent epidemiologic study assessing the contribution of Western society's common risk factors in hypertension found that physical inactivity makes the largest contribution to risk of developing hypertension, though high sodium and low potassium intake each contributed a significant risk, as did low magnesium intake.4 A study has also shown that supplementation with soy protein and psyllium fiber decreased 24-hour systolic blood pressure by 5.9 mmHg in hypertensive individuals.5
As difficult as it is to help patients change their behavior, the time practitioners invest in constructing specific exercise plans, discussing particular fruits and vegetables that patients find appetizing and would be likely to incorporate into their diets, and recommending salt restriction is all time well-spent. Frequently, the role of an effective practitioner is that of a "motivational health coach,'' providing powerful treatment tools to share with patients and combining these tools with educational facts that can empower patients to change. Thus, as a patient learns about the consequences, both good and bad parts, of personal life choices, the more likely he or she is to make changes. For example, illustrating the importance of achieving an optimal lean body mass with facts and figures can make a goal more tangible. When a patient comes to realize that the capillary beds within the body while at rest contain a mere 5% of the blood volume yet contribute to 27% of peripheral resistance (explained in intelligent lay terms), this can serve a motivational pivot because the loss of 1 pound can equate to the loss of 250 miles of blood vessels, thus, lowering the resistance that the heart must pump against and the resultant blood-pressure change. In addition, a patient with an average heart rate of 72 beats per minute can be educated on the importance of properly fueling the cardiovascular system by learning that the heart weighs a mere 10 ounces yet contracts approximately 100,000 times per day.
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Your heart pumps blood throughout your body using a network of tubing called arteries and capillaries which return the blood back to your heart via your veins. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart beats.Learn more...