Resistance Training Decreases Blood Pressure

(Fox News) — When Caroline came to me after being diagnosed with pre-hypertension, she was stunned.  At 32, she seemed to live healthily, going to the gym four to five times a week to enjoy a cardio workout. So what went wrong?

For starters, Caroline had one major risk of cardiovascular disease, a father who died from a heart attack at 50. Even though her lipid profile came out relatively good, her diet needed improvement.  Her HDL (good cholesterol) was a little bit low and her triglycerides were close to borderline dangerous levels.

It’s not all about cholesterol

Larry Santora, MD FACC, Medical Director, Interventional and Preventive Cardiology Orange County Heart institute, says that the traditional risk factors are part of the well-known Framingham risk scores (FRS): age, sex, systolic blood pressure, antihypertensive therapy, total cholesterol levels, HDL lipoprotein level and smoking history. These factors give a 10-year estimate of cardiac death or myocardial infarction (heart attack).

He says the cholesterol becomes less important if you exercise. Eating Omega-3 fatty acids keeps the blood sugar normal as does eating fruits and vegetables. The triglyceride level is a less potent risk factor and becomes more important compared to the rest of the lipid profile.

“For instance, if you have high triglycerides only, the risk is slight for CVD. But if you have high triglycerides and a low HDL, then the risk for CVD is worse than if you just had low HDL alone,” explains Santora.

This was the case of Caroline, who was advised to reduce sodium intake, not from the salt shaker, but from processed food. Caroline’s trouble used to be her one-TV-dinner-a-day habit. Her focus was limiting calories, sugars and saturated fats, but she was not paying attention to meals that had over 900 mg of sodium – around 39 percent of the 2,300 mg suggested upper limit for healthy people in one meal.

To counteract the sodium, she added more vegetables and fruits to every meal, in particular, produce high in potassium. Other nutrients that were not in place on a regular basis were fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, vegetable protein sources and micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and D.

Caroline now starts her day with an old-fashioned oatmeal made with skim milk, add some berries, kiwi, apple chunks and chia seeds or flaxseeds for non-marine sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. For lunch, she has fish at least three times per week for her main dish. For dinner, she has some vegetable protein sources like beans, tofu or tempeh.

Lifting weights to really boost heart health

The most common exercise recommendation that doctors gave patients like Caroline was walk at least 30 minutes a day. But what about adding resistance training to her exercise routine?

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