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We talk about arterial hypertension, salt and potassium

One of the most common factors leading to cardiovascular disease is arterial hypertension. A factor that is not too much talked about but which is very important for our health. High blood pressure plays a key role in human mortality and disability worldwide.

Now… why is high blood pressure given? How can we avoid suffering it or improve it if we already suffer it? In this article we will clarify these questions and get to know this disease a little better.

What is high blood pressure? Causes.

It is a continuous high blood pressure in the systemic arteries. The higher the pressure (its normal value is 115/75 mmHg), the greater the risk of other pathologies.

At present, in most societies, blood pressure levels increase steadily with age, regardless of sex.

The most common cause of the onset of arterial hypertension is when sodium, chlorine and potassium are altered and decompensated.

Salt consists of sodium and chlorine, both together with potassium are essential for the control of hypertension. All three relate to each other doing their functions in the cells of our body. Maybe you’ve heard of these minerals as electrolytes.

Sodium, potassium and chlorine

Potassium is often found inside the cell while sodium is located outside. When sodium enters the cell potassium comes out, when sodium returns out of the cell potassium enters again. It is what is called a sodium-potassium pump whose purpose is to keep potassium inside the cells and the sodium outside.

These three minerals are essential for the hydration of the body. Potassium moisturizes the inside of the cells and sodium and chlorine outside.

By consuming foods and drinks that contain water, it goes to our intestines, from there to the blood and from the blood to the cells. As a result, salt should moisturize our blood and extracellular fluids so that potassium can hydrate the cells inside it.

This is why a glass of water is more moisturizing if we add a pinch of salt and a little lemon that is rich in potassium.

Relationship between these three minerals and blood pressure

If you consume a lot of salt and little potassium, we hydrate the outside of the cells but not the inside, so our cells could become dehydrated. In addition, potassium plays an important role in the removal of excess salt through the urine.

If we do not remove excess salt, the water in the blood rises and puts pressure on the looks of the blood vessels.

This can lead to extracellular fluid accumulating in certain parts of the body and causing swelling in the face, hands, or legs, for example.

This same pressure that is caused will help excess salt to be removed in the urine and blood pressure return to normal. However, the pressure time that happens before this elimination is already a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Potassium and salt in equilibrium is a fundamental factor

Therefore, to maintain a stable blood pressure we must maintain the balance between salt and potassium. Salt is easy to maintain because our body asks us for it through cravings. Therefore, we should pay special attention to potassium.

We should keep in mind that it is more important that these minerals are balanced with each other, to get the recommended daily amount of each of them. Now… how do we get it?

How to achieve the balance between potassium and salt?

The main thing is to take special care of the food we consume, since many (especially processed ones) are high in salt. Limit this type of food.

The ranges of salt and potassium that we should consume daily oscillate:

  • Potassium: between 2300 mg in women and 3400 mg in men
  • Sodium: between 1500 — 2300 mg

These levels are set for those who do not do an elevated activity in their day-to-day life. Keep in mind that with sweating we lose these electrolytes and hydration must be higher to replenish them.

Some factors to have found to achieve the right potassium levels are:

  • Fruits contain around 100 — 500 mg of potassium per 100 g of food.
  • Vegetables contain between 200 — 1000 mg of potassium per 100 g of food.
  • Fresh meats are an excellent source of potassium but when cooked they lose their juice that is where this mineral is found. So if you can use these juices to make a sauce or stews and thus have all the nutritional contribution of meat.
  • Fat is low in potassium.

Therefore, consume fruits and vegetables, tubers that are rich in starches, consume also lean proteins and salve your meals without overdoing it. Limit fats and grains, avoid sugars and refined products.

What health risks does high blood pressure entail?

  • Coronary heart disease.
  • Stroke.
  • Myocardial infarction.
  • Heart failure.
  • Atrial fibrillation and disease of peripheral arteries.
  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Cognitive impairment

Considering that all these consequences are derived from hypertension, it is not surprising that we are facing the main factor of a significant percentage of mortality and disability.

How do I know if I have a deficiency of any of the minerals?

If our body is low in potassium we will have the following symptoms:

  • High blood pressure
  • Fluid retention and cramping Loss of
  • bone mass
  • Kidney stone
  • Fatigue, weakness and cramps
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain

If we need more sodium we will present the following signs (the latter only in severe cases):

  • Low blood pressure (including dizziness when we stand)
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Poor digestion
  • Headaches
  • Nauseas, vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Disorientation and fainting

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