How Your Eye Health Impacts Your Blood Pressure

By: Bel Marra Health | Eye Health | Saturday, March 03, 2012 - 05:21 AM

Blood PressureAccording to statistics Canada one in five Canadian adults has high blood pressure. Many medical professionals believe this number would be much lower if people had a better understanding of the risk factors.

Sea salt

In a U.S survey 61 per cent of people said that sea salt was better for your blood pressure. Sea salt is often advertised as a healthier alternative to regular table salt. The fact is the only difference between sea salt and table salt is the taste and texture, otherwise the two have the same impact on your blood pressure.

Table salt and sea salt both contain sodium, and a lot of people consume way too much. No matter which type you use, you should be limiting your intake to 2,300 milligrams per day. If you are over 50, black, or already have high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or diabetes, you should only be having 1, 500 milligrams a day.

Salt retains water, thus promoting thirst. A lot of salt in the body creates fluid pressure on blood vessel walls. The walls respond by narrowing and thickening, requiring higher pressure for the blood to get pumped to organs.

Blood sugar factor

Recent studies have indicated that blood sugar problems can cause high blood pressure. In 2008 the University of Washington conducted a complex study that showed 70 % of people with diabetes had high blood pressure and that blood sugar problems were likely the reason. Some medical experts have been critical of this study because it only involved Caucasians; however, the authors believe it serves as a catalyst for further investigation.

It’s not just blood sugar problems and blood pressure that are related, cholesterol and blood pressure have a relationship as well. High cholesterol is when fat from food collects in your blood constricting your arteries and making it harder for blood to pump. When this occurs it can cause your blood pressure to rise. Cholesterol can be controlled by diet and exercise, which leads to another risk factor…eye health.

Eye Health

Researchers at the University of Sydney, Australia conducted a study with school-age children and came up with some interesting data. They determined that kids who spent a lot of time watching television or using the computer experienced a narrowing of the blood vessels in their eyes, which is an indicator of increased risk of high blood pressure. Children who exercised instead were much healthier. The study did take into account, weight, height, body mass index, and current blood pressure.

Similar studies that focused on cholesterol testing have come to the same conclusion. The research points out that not only is sedentary behavior unhealthy, past-times like watching TV tend to include snacking and those snacks are often high in cholesterol.

Doctors say while consumers are demanding food producers develop more low cholesterol snacks, there is still a large segment of the population that will lean towards the high cholesterol food.

In the past a lot of research focused on how blood sugar problems, diabetes and blood pressure were linked, and how they could lead to eye problems such as retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. Now more and more researchers are looking at how poor eye health can actually cause blood pressure issues.

It is interesting to note that high cholesterol has long been linked to eye health and specifically retinopathy. Organizations like the National Eye Institute and the Macular Degeneration Foundation are suggesting we all talk to our doctors about diet and activity to reduce high cholesterol risk, address blood sugar problems and ultimately keep blood pressure under control.

Lowering high blood pressure and high cholesterol will prevent heart attacks and strokes. It could even save your life. Doing things like limiting sea salt and TV watching seem like a small price to pay for a longer life.

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