Alzheimer’s Disease is not the only cause of dementia. Vascular dementia is often brought on by stroke. The Alzheimer’s Association characterizes vascular dementia as “changes in thinking skills sometimes occur suddenly following strokes that block major brain blood vessels.“ Since the number one cause of stroke is high blood pressure, we can help prevent vascular dementia by managing high blood pressure. Myths surrounding high blood pressure block people from understanding the seriousness of the disease and their role in handling it. Read on to separate fact from myth.
1) Myth: I will get high blood pressure because my mother had it.
Even though high blood pressure tends to run in families, a person’s lifestyle choices can prevent it.
- Watch what you eat and reduce sodium intake.
- Stay within weight guidelines.
- Learn to cope with stress.
- Don’t smoke.
- Follow doctor’s orders for meds, activity, exercise, and alcohol intake limits.
2) Myth: All I need to do to manage high blood pressure is avoid table salt.
If only this were true. Our modern world relies heavily on processed foods for convenience and variety. The downside is about 75% of the salt we consume comes, not from table salt, but from processed foods, such as any canned tomato products, canned soups and vegetables, condiments, and dry mixes. Know what you are eating by reading labels and looking for these words: soda, sodium, and the symbol “Na.” Try not to add salt to your cooking, especially when cooking with processed foods. For instance, in making chili with canned beans and tomatoes, greatly reduce the salt you add, or skip it altogether.
3) Myth: I can use kosher and sea salt instead of table salt, and not worry so much about the quantity of salt.
“It’s very important for people to be aware that sea salt has as much sodium as table salt,” said Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., University of Vermont. Kosher salt, sea salt, and table salt are all about 40% sodium.
4) Myth: My dad had high blood pressure; I remember his flushed face, sweating, complaining about not sleeping, and being nervous. I know I’m safe because I don’t have these symptoms; in fact, I feel great.
Ninjas may be the silent killers in movie thrillers, but doctors call high blood pressure the “silent killer” because it can work for years, destroying the heart, arteries and other organs, with no symptoms. Know your family history and get regular physicals. Only a doctor can diagnose high blood pressure.
5) Myth: Thank goodness red wine is approved for drinking. I don’t have to limit it like I do Scotch.
Emerson said, “Moderation in all things, especially moderation.” This is funny, but high blood pressure and alcohol consumption are no laughing matter because excess drinking can dramatically increase blood pressure. If you consume alcohol, limit yourself to 1 drink per day (for women) and 2 drinks per day (for men), which is defined as 12 ounces of beer, or four ounces of wine, or 1 ounce of 100-proof liquor.
6) Myth: I get regular physicals where my doctor checks my high blood pressure and I take medication as instructed. That’s all I need to do.
First, see the recommendations below myth #1.
Second, monitor your blood pressure at home at the same time each day, record your readings and share this with your doctor. This information will help determine if your regime is working to reduce your blood pressure or if changes are necessary.
7) Myth: I can stop my blood pressure meds; my lower BP readings mean I’ve cured it.
For many people, high blood pressure can be a lifelong disease requiring daily medication. Ask your doctor when you can stop taking BP medication.
Key source information for this article: The American Heart Association.