Being told you have high blood pressure is concerning. You have a right to be concerned because it has potential long-term health problems, if not for now then later on. You will need to bring it down to a healthy level. Thankfully, that’s relatively easy to do. All it will take in most cases is some simple lifestyle changes such as losing weight and getting more exercise. A great many people believe some erroneous things about high blood pressure. Here, we attempt to cut through the misinformation.
Myth: High Blood Pressure is Nothing to Worry About
Many people with high blood pressure just ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Central to this is the belief that it just isn’t a problem worth worrying about at the moment – let’s deal with it later. Even slightly high blood pressure can prove problematic now and later on. It leads to potential stroke, heart disease and problems with liver and kidneys if left unchecked. The longer a patient ignores it, the larger the potential problem. It’s not a minor issue that you will get over like a cold, but a potential ticking time bomb.
Myth: Cutting Out Caffeine Will Cure High Blood Pressure
The effect of caffeine on blood pressure is confusing and enigmatic. If you don’t drink much tea, coffee and cola, your blood pressure will spike when you do consume food and drink containing caffeine. However, if you drink a moderate amount of caffeine each day – for example, 2-4 cups of tea or coffee, you will experience no measurable benefit in cutting it out. In short, if you don’t drink caffeine every day you should cut it out but daily tea and coffee drinkers will experience no benefit from doing so.
Myth: Only the Unhealthy Get High Blood Pressure
While smoking, too much alcohol, a poor diet and a lack of exercise are massive contributions to high blood pressure, it’s a myth that only people with a poor lifestyle experience it. Getting regular exercise, limiting sugar and salt, giving up smoking, limiting alcohol and generally losing weight can go a long way to reducing blood pressure. Even if you are healthy and a normal weight you can experience high blood pressure. For some people it is simply congenital but still needs to be monitored and controlled.
Myth: You Have to go Vegetarian or Vegan (and Organic)
This is a myth often presented by vegetarian and vegan interest groups, especially on health supplement websites who want to sell you their organic produce. You may be horrified at the prospect of eating nothing but lentils and tofu for the rest of your life but there is no need. There is little evidence that these diets are any healthier for you than a balanced meat-based diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit and salad. You can reduce your intake of red and processed meat. Eat more fish and lean meat such as poultry.
Myth: It’s Genetic and Runs in Families
It’s not clear where this particular myth came from, but it’s not true. People often believe they are safe because a parent who was both a heavy smoker and drinker never had high blood pressure and genetics is preventing them from doing so. It does tend to run in families, but not for genetic reasons. If both parents smoke and drink heavily, their children are likely to do the same when they are older. A family that lives in fast food is likely to continue that trend. Families who live a healthy and active lifestyle are less likely to experience high blood pressure because of the healthy habits.