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A health nutrition and exercise plan is the best way to control and manage most chronic diseases. High blood pressure is a health condition that runs in my family. It refers to a condition where there is prolonged increase of the force of blood flowing through the arteries. It is also referred to as hypertension. A normal blood pressure should be below 120/80 mmHg. People with values of 140/90 mmHg are considered hypertensive while those with blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 are classified as "pre-hypertensive" (Gibney et al., 2004). At present, I have been diagnosed with pre-hypertension; I am concerned it may advance to hypertension in future. Other contributing factors are; drugs-alcohol and cigarettes, weight, diet, and stress.
To control further rise in blood pressure and the complications that can result from it such as hardening of the arteries, cardiac disease and stroke, I have designed four objectives that I can put into practice within the next one month and maintain throughout my life. These goals will help me to control hypertension and ensure I lead a healthy lifestyle. The first nutritional goal is to reduce my alcohol intake and quit smoking. Moderate intake of alcohol; women should not take more than one drink per day (one drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces 80-proof whiskey), has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary disease, a common complication of hypertension (Gibney et al., 2004). I will ensure that I limit my daily alcohol to the recommended daily intake. Though I started smoking cigarettes five years ago, I now have to quit the habit. In people with hypertension, cigarette smoking is known to increase the risk of cardiac disease and stroke; it causes an immediate temporary, rise in the blood pressure of 5 to10 mm Hg. My immediate action is to join a smoking-cessation plan to help me drop the habit.
The second goal is diet modification. According to the advice by my doctor and information from the website mypyramid.gov, I have to regulate what I take in my diet in order to control hypertension. My diet should include a variety of foods with plenty of grain products, vegetables, and fruits. It should be a diet low in fat and cholesterol, and moderate in sugars, salt and sodium. High sodium intake is associated with higher blood pressure; therefore, I have to cut down on the intake of salt, soy sauce and processed foods with high sodium content. Daily intake of Potassium has been proven to decrease the blood pressure moderately (Onusko, 2003). Therefore, my diet should have utmost ,400 milligrams of sodium and 2-4 grams of potassium daily. Other recommendations are 6-11 servings of grain products, 3-5 servings of vegetables, and 2-4 servings of fruits. Further, I should have 2-3 servings of milk and 2-3 servings of meat and beans. In order to achieve these nutritional changes, I will prepare a daily eating plan that incorporates these recommendations.
Weight management is the third objective. Blood pressure rises with body mass and reduces with weight loss. Physical activities help reduce blood pressure and manage weight. For the last few years, I have gained weight, and this has been a main factor contributing to my pre-hypertension condition. This is due to my sedentary lifestyle with minimal exercises. The immediate course of action is to reduce the daily calorie uptake and increase physical exercises so as to lose weight. In the designing of my daily eating plan, I will avoid the high calorie foods and instead opt for the high-fiber, low-calorie nutritious ones. I will join a weight lose plan and design a personal exercise routine that will help me maintain weight within the recommended range. To prevent the risk of developing hypertension, I should ensure my body mass index (BMI), is always, in the accepted range for my weight and height.
Lastly, I plan to work on stress management. Long periods of stress have been known to lead to hypertension, and they contribute to other conditions such as heart disease. This is because it leads to production of high levels of hormones related to stress for example, cortisol and adrenaline (Onusko, 2003). Stress management is, therefore, critical in keeping the blood pressure low. The immediate action plan is to acquit myself with the techniques to control and positively manage stress; when need be, I may seek the assistance of a skilled therapist. These techniques include; having adequate rest, setting reasonable goals and expectations to avoid frustrations, having personal values and abiding by them and reducing the sources of stress.
The plan will be not without setbacks, and difficulties; the main challenge will be the changing of lifestyle to incorporate the new changes. I know it will not be easy to drop some habits such as smoking, but with the right attitude, information, and effort, I will eventually adopt a new healthier lifestyle. I will network with groups and individuals whom may be striving to overcome such habits as mine; this will be a significant source of inspiration in achieving my objectives. I plan on seeking expert's assistance wherever I feel that I cannot succeeed on my own. Regarding diet, I will consult a skilled nutritionist to help me in designing and preparing the daily eating plan. I will be more health conscious when choosing what to consume and will shift to more use of unprocessed foods than the processed ones.
The most notable outcome of a plan will be gradual lowering of the blood pressure to levels below 120/80 mmHg. This will be determined by constant blood pressure tests at intervals as recommended by the doctor. Another key marker to peg the success of the plan on is weight loss and management. I will have the BMI determined frequently as a way of analyzing the progress in weight management. I will review the plan every week to determine whether I am fully adhering to the other changes such as quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake.
The potential health risk that may arise if the plan is not implemented is the development of hypertension and its subsequent complications. The common symptoms of hypertension are acute headache, tiredness and chest pain, difficulties in breathing, arrhythmias, hematuria (blood in urine) and throbbing in the chest, neck, or ears. Grave complications due to high blood pressure include atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and eye disease (hypertensive retinopathy). Hypertension is also a contributing factor to the development and deterioration of several diabetes complications (Gibney, 2003).
The nutrients the body needs change with age. As I grow old, I need to take fewer calories due to the declining energy expenditure because of reduced activities. Besides, in the middle age hormone levels fall, and this leads to a change in body fat distribution. This means that I have to cut down on the fat intake. Advancement in years gradually reduces the amount of gastric juice secreted, making the absorption vitamin B12 difficult (Lichtenstein, 2010). This means that I should increase the uptake of vitamins and minerals in the diet. Calcium and vitamin D are other essential nutrients to increase in the diet as I age; they are critical in preventing osteoporosis. I will increase my dietary protein intake, due to increased need for amino acids in the body for tissue repair.
Hypertension is a condition that mostly presents with no symptoms. It is necessary to have a medical check to determine the blood pressure and take the necessary steps to manage it. In most cases, it can be well managed through diet and lifestyle change. However, sometimes medication is necessary to control the blood pressure.