“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” Remember that English nursery rhyme? Most people do. It’s been theorized that the rhyme was actually written about the realm of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) — not a difficult gardener. Historical rumor aside, our lives are like gardens. And our actions, whether they are positive or negative, leave a mark. How our gardens grow can also be influenced by heredity. Families share many things — the good and the bad — including genes, behaviors, lifestyles, environments, etc. Sometimes, they can even share Chronic illnesses. One such illness is Hypertension.
Quite simply, Hypertension is high blood pressure. And Blood Pressure (BP) is literally the force of the blood against the walls of the blood vessels. Medically, a normal BP is 120 over 80 mm of mercury. Hypertension is any BP that is higher than 130 over 80 mm of mercury. And it can occur from several things, i.e. stress, an underlying medical condition, or on its own. More importantly, if it is left unmanaged, Hypertension can lead to heart attack, stroke and other serious health issues.
For many patients, lifestyle changes bring positive results. Doctors usually recommend about 30-minutes of moderate exercise, 5-7 days a week. This can be aerobics, walking, cycling, swimming, pilates, etc. If you aren’t currently active, then ask yourself: What sounds like fun? Some people prefer to exercise alone. Others prefer to be in a group. If you are comfortable in a chosen setting, you are more likely to continue doing the activity. And, obviously, if you enjoy the activity … you will continue to do it. You might even enjoy the company of a family member, in the process. Consider it an activity that both of you can share. Think of the positive example that you are setting, too. Diet is another way to reduce high blood pressure.
DASH is the acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This isn’t a fad. It is a lifestyle approach to good nutrition. And it was designed to prevent as well as manage high blood pressure. The DASH diet encourages healthy eating, i.e. vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, whole-grains, fish, poultry and nuts. All in moderation, of course. It also reduces your sodium intake and increases nutrients like potassium, magnesium and calcium. Some patients, who follow the DASH diet, have been able to see results in as quickly as 2 weeks! If you are interested, talk to your doctor about trying it. Together, you can chart your progress!
Last, but not least, there are actually health benefits that come from music. Studies have shown that Classical music can lower your blood pressure. It has a calming, soothing effect on the mind and body. Mozart appears to have the greatest influence. But Strauss also offers good results. If you can’t imagine listening to The Blue Danube Waltz, or a symphony, for any length of time, then you might try a CD of Nature sounds. As corny as this may seem, music therapy is a proven and easy way to manage Hypertension. It’s your garden — your life. What are you willing to do to help it grow?