High blood pressure increases risk of diseases, health conditions

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – High blood pressure not only damages the arteries in your heart but also in your brain. It increases your risk for stroke and memory loss later in life along with many other diseases.

Health expert, Karen Owoc explains how you can improve your brain, heart, and overall health.

Karen says your brain is fed by one of the richest networks of blood vessels in your body. When blood vessels are damaged and circulation to the brain is reduced, it can lead to vascular dementia.

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. (Alzheimer’s is the most common.)

87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes, that is, the stroke is caused by a clot that blocks blood flow to the brain. A clot or rupture in the blood vessel is usually the cause.

High blood pressure is often at the root of many diseases as well as conditions, such as inflammation. Chronic systemic inflammation plays a key role in chronic disease and pain, such as: Heart disease, diabetes

Rheumatoid arthritis, cancer

Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s

The Power of the Vagus Nerve By controlling your blood pressure and inflammation, you have the power to help prevent disease. You can do this by stimulating your vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve, also known as the “wandering nerve” (think vagabond or vagrant), is the longest of the 12 cranial nerves with multiple branches that wander to major organs — from your brain stem to organs (e.g., heart and lungs to the colon).

When you stimulate this nerve, it triggers the release of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter) that induces calm throughout your body.

You can stimulate the vagus nerve and its release of acetylcholine when you slow your breathing from 10-14 breaths per minute to 5-7 breaths per minute.

The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise (or The Relaxing Breath)

This breathing exercise stimulates your vagus nerve by slowing your breathing to 3 breaths per minute. Eyes can be open or closed.

Steps to Stimulating the Vagus Nerve

> Exhale completely through your mouth.

Then inhale (through your nose) to a count of 4.

Hold your breath for a count of 7.

Then exhale completely (through your mouth) to a count of 8.

Do the 4-7-8 at least twice a day. It is a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system.

The Takeaway: This is one exercise you can do anywhere, and you cannot do it too often (e.g, sitting at your desk, when stuck in traffic, or when lying down). Practice deep breathing consistently, so your blood pressure may become lower consistently

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