by Dr. Brooke Azie-Rentz, ND


High blood pressure is defined as a reading above 140/90 for 3 separate measurements.  We all know that age, race and family history contribute to this diagnosis, but what habits and lifestyle choices do we make that may also contribute to this potential killer?


  • Salt Wanted AdObesity– Yes, we would all consider this a common risk factor due to more blood needed to circulate through a larger body, however, I would say the habits and lifestyle choices that we make that lead to obesity also directly contribute. This would include food choices such as fast food and processed food that are high in salt (sodium), which causes are bodies to retain water therefore increasing blood volume,and diets low in vitamins and minerals such as potassium, which helps balance/control the amount of sodium your body absorbs.  In addition, these lifestyle choices coincide with a decreased intake in fresh fruits and vegetables which leads to less consumption of vitamins, minerals and fiber and an increased consumption of saturated fats.

  • Lack of Exercise– again, another no brainer, as it leads to obesity, but also not going outside to walk/run/hike leads to low Vitamin D levels, which has a direct impact on the enzyme your kidneys make to control blood pressure. Exercise is also a great way to cope with stress!
  • Using Tobacco– short of putting a skull and cross bones on the packaging I think this is a no brainer! Not only does smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raise your blood pressure, but the chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls, causing your arteries to narrow, increasing your blood pressure.
  • Drinking too much alcohol- this is defined as more than 1 serving per day for women and 2 servings for men. Antioxidants found in red wine, like reservatrol, can thin the blood and decrease inflammation and LDL cholesterol.  There are mixed studies on reservatrol and drinking wine to help heart disease so please consult your physician before adding more wine to your diet.
  • Not drinking enough water- our bodies are 70% water. If you are dehydrated then your arteries have to constrict in order to get the trickle of blood to your tips of the fingers and toes. So make sure to get your 8 glasses per day!
  • stress blowoutStress- it has been studied that the most heart attacks occur on Monday morning! Why? An “outpouring” of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, occurs within working people on Mondays. Add this to the fact that cortisol is already highest in the morning, being our natural alarm clock, so the stress of starting your work week just increases your stress hormones and therefore blood pressure.
  • Poor sleep habits- those of us who don’t get our 8 hours of sleep increase the response of our sympathetic nervous system, cortisol, which in turn raises blood pressure.

keep calm hypertension
No matter which doctor you choose to see for your general health needs, if you have been identified as having high blood pressure, consider some of these behaviors that may be easily changed, that are contributing to the problem.  Don’t rush to medication without looking at the root cause.  Symptomatic solutions rarely yield lasting remedy.  If you are prone to these behaviors, consider seeing a doctor and talking about lifestyle and your health.


qtr pg ad copyDr. Brooke Azie-Rentz is the co-founder of Alpine Integrated Medicine.  She and her associates aim to provide intelligent, holistic care to the Redmond Ridge and greater Eastside community.