Why is my blood pressure is rising?

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My blood pressure (systolic) is rising surprisingly (usually 130 or less, now up to 145 over the last month or so). We have changed our diet to lots of pasta, (controlling the calories) and less (very much less) meat. This is not a healthy move, just cooking from a great cookbook which has the best recipes we have ever enjoyed. Why?

Systolic blood pressure (top number) does not concern doctors unless it gets really high (> 160) because it measures the pressure created against the arterial walls when the heart is pumping. A systolic change from 135 to 145 is usually insignificant but check with your doctor. It is the diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) that causes concern when it goes over 90 because it measures the pressure created against the arterial walls when the heart is resting. You don’t want a lot of pressure against your arteries constantly as that can cause them to balloon out (aneurysm).

Pasta would not cause your blood pressure to rise and new research suggests it may not be salt either. But you know how the research pendulum swings so I wouldn’t overdo using salt. The research focus now points to calcium and potassium levels as impacting blood pressure. So I would ask if you drink at least 16 oz of milk per day or the equivalent 2 oz of natural cheese to get enough calcium? As long as you don’t drink lots of carbonated beverages or eat too much meat (both high sources of phosphorus), your calcium levels should be normal with an adequate intake of calcium-rich foods.

To get enough potassium, do you drink orange juice, eat bananas or other good sources? As long as you have normal functioning kidneys and haven’t had diarrhea or vomiting, the potassium levels inside your cells and in your blood should be normal.

Another factor is an aerobic exercise which can stress your heart to become a stronger, better pump. Perhaps the lack of exercise during winter has contributed to your heart’s pumping efficiency? I would suggest 30 minutes of exercise, five times per week, that increases your heart rate but not to the point of becoming short of breath. You should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising as a guide for how hard to exercise.