Nothing can slow Jane Seymour down—not even high blood pressure. Indeed, the accomplished actress has embraced a healthy lifestyle while still taking precautions for hypertension, a diagnosis she received while pregnant with her twin boys at age 45. “I was asymptomatic until I got pregnant,” says Seymour.
“Hypertension is largely an asymptomatic disease,” offers Brian S. Decker, MD, staff physician at Indiana University Health. “This is why it has been called the `silent killer’ and why I recommend having blood pressure checked by a healthcare provider regularly.”
To ward off potential problems, Jane maintains a healthy diet, rich in produce and low in salt and caffeine. She starts her mornings with freshly pressed juices made from items grown in her own garden such as kale, ginger, celery, green apple and carrot. “Since I grow a lot of my own vegetables, I also eat a lot of dark leafy greens and I don’t cook with salt anymore,” she says. “I will always, however, have unsalted pistachios, almonds, pumpkin seeds around – they’re great healthy snacks.”
Dr. Decker agrees with Jane’s low-sodium diet to manage her hypertension. “I recommend that my hypertensive patients not consume more than 2000 mg. of sodium per day--and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial for high blood pressure.”
Stress reduction is also key for Seymour and people who struggle with hypertension. Calm can keep the numbers in check. To tame the tension in her life, Jane has been painting with watercolors for years. “It’s part of my stress management program. The process puts me into a calmer state of mind. I’ve just started doing some black and whites with a touch of color florals.”
Emotional stress can raise blood pressure, so if painting or similar activities provides peace and calm, it can be beneficial, explains Dr. Decker. Jane is also a transcendental meditation devotee, a simple, natural technique that helps your body relax. “I find a comfortable place to sit and close my eyes so I can be in my home, outside at the beach, even while I’m in a car – not driving of course. I usually do it for 20 minutes but if I only have 10, those 10 minutes are better than nothing. The technique is incredibly helpful in reducing stress quickly because you’re shutting out any distractions and calming yourself from the inside out, closing your eyes with some deep breathing and positive focus. When I’ve spoken to doctors I’m told that meditation is incredibly important in lowering heart disease in general.”
According to Dr. Decker, Jane is doing everything he would recommend to his own patients. “To reduce your risk of developing hypertension and to better manage it if you have already been diagnosed with it, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight and eat a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium.”
-- By Bonnie Siegler