We all look forward to enjoying a hearty Thanksgiving feast with loved ones each year. Favorites like roasted turkey, mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, and apple pie are just too yummy to resist. Now there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself during the holidays, but doing so everyday can lead to serious health troubles. New research suggests that hypertension can lead to a doubled risk of developing epilepsy.
A recent study published in Epilepsia looked into how certain risk factors such as hypertension (also called high blood pressure), diabetes, and smoking could negatively impact epilepsy risk. Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that causes sudden seizures, muscle twitches, and spasms in the body. These same risk factors are known for leading to stroke, which the study authors note is a common cause of epilepsy for older adults.
Participants for this study included 2,986 adults with an average age of 58. Researchers reviewed participants’ medical charts of reported epilepsy cases. They also looked at any data related to their risk factors during the 19 year follow up period.
The study authors found that 55 cases of epilepsy were reported by the end of the study. High blood pressure was linked with a more than doubled chance of developing epilepsy compared to the other risk factors. This wasn’t entirely shocking, as previous research associated hypertension with an increased likelihood of seizures because of left ventricular hypertrophy. This occurs when the heart’s left chamber has thickened or isn’t pumping correctly due to high blood pressure. When this continues without treatment, it can prevent healthy blood flow to the heart and trigger unprovoked seizures.
Researchers were hopeful about older adults’ ability to lower their epilepsy risk since blood pressure is modifiable. Essentially, with some easy lifestyle tweaks, you can avoid high blood pressure and epileptic seizures over time.
How to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
Your diet is the easiest place to start because it gives you an excuse to eat plenty of delicious foods like potatoes, dark chocolate, and leafy greens during the day. When cooking, try using less salt and more spices such as cardamom and cinnamon to pack a health-boosting flavor punch. This is because consuming excess amounts of salt is known to lead to hypertension.
Drinks including coffee and tea are research-packed for lowering stroke risk, which helps you avoid epilepsy. Plus, treating yourself with three glasses of red wine per week has been shown to improve heart health and reduce blood pressure (cheers to the holidays!).
Simple activities can offer hypertension-reducing perks as well. Taking an afternoon walk around the park or your neighborhood to admire the seasonal decor is a great exercise. Even fitting in time to stretch every day is a relaxing activity that can keep your blood pressure under control. Also, beating the cold weather by frequently enjoying a relaxing bath has been linked with lowering blood pressure and risk of type 2 diabetes.
It’s clear that everyday habits can pay off in the long run. Try these out to help prevent hypertension and decrease your risk of epilepsy!