Luck & Control

by Susan Schachter, MSRDN August 12, 2021 3 min read

Luck & Control

Tomorrow is Friday the 13th! Even those among us who do not consider ourselves superstitious may feel a bit uneasy about the negative myths surrounding this day. These myths make us worry about “bad luck” and undermine our sense of control over our lives. And losing our sense of control can affect our actual control, because if we believe that our lives aren't in our control and are dictated more by luck than our own actions, we often just give up on trying to better ourselves.

And just as there are myths about Friday the 13th, so too are there myths about blood pressure control. Today let’s debunk some of the myths about blood pressure control, so that we can make our choices from a place of knowledge, rather than ignorance or myth.

Myths about controlling high blood pressure:

  • Because high BP runs in my family and there’s nothing I can do to change that, why bother trying?
  • If I want to lower my blood pressure, the most important thing to eliminate from my diet is table salt.
  • I use low sodium salt on my food, so I’m doing what I can to address my high blood pressure and eating habits.
  • I feel fine, so I don’t need to worry about high blood pressure.
  • I’ve read that wine is good for the heart and I have a few drinks a night, so I think I’m fine with regard to my blood pressure.

Truths about controlling blood pressure control:

  • When we talk about what runs in our family or what’s in our genes, we sometimes feel like giving up on trying. We might feel like our health destiny is written in stone. Not so. As I’ve written about in a previous Circulatory, Heredity & Blood Pressure, there is something very important to take into account. It’s called epigenetics. Basically, epigenetics addresses which factors/choices in our lifestyle/environment will turn on or turn off the workings of specific genes we’ve inherited. So yes, lifestyle choices can have an impact on the health of our blood pressure.
  • Although limiting table salt is valuable in helping to normalize high blood pressure, it is neither the most important nor the only dietary choice that must be addressed. Take a look at our Circulatory: Foods to Avoid If You Have Hypertension.
  • As we just said regarding table salt, using low sodium salt on food is just one of many changes that we can make in our dietary habits to address high blood pressure. There are “hidden” sources of sodium (salt) in many foods. Take a look at our Circulatory: Signs of Possible Hypertension: Eat These Foods for High Blood Pressure Reduction. There are also non-dietary habits to include in our lives to assist us in our pursuit of blood pressure normalization.
  • One can “feel fine” and have high blood pressure without knowing it. That’s why it’s called the “silent killer”. About 100 million people in the U.S. have it, and 1 in 5 of those who have it don’t know they have it. Finding out is so important because knowing gives you the opportunity to make changes in your lifestyle (and/or to your medication regimen) in support of your good health. That’s why we say “know your numbers”.
  • Yes, there are some studies that support some amount of wine for heart health. However, this is not a situation in which more is better. The maximum serving of drinks one should have is 1/day for women, 1/day for men over 65, and 2/day for men under 65. A serving is either 5oz wine, 12oz beer, or 1.5oz hard liquor. Too much alcohol can actually end up raising your blood pressure. Take a look at our Circulatory: Healthy Drinks Other Than Water to Drink Instead of Alcohol.

So, I hope we’ve dispelled some of the myths about healthy blood pressure and its contribution to our pursuit of heart health. Friday the 13th or not, this need not be a matter of luck. Choice from knowledge!

Here’s to your health!


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