Discover 5 Lifestyle Changes to Commit to When You Have Hypertension.
A study conducted in 2015 showed that approximately 1.13 billion people around the world suffer from hypertension.
Each day, it is safe to say that this number continues to grow since a lot of people are constantly being affected by different factors that put them at higher risks of being hypertensive.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. This is a condition wherein the blood vessels have constantly raised pressure.
What is Hypertension?
Blood pressure is produced by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels or arteries as it is pumped by the heart. Whenever this pressure increases, the heart will have to work harder to pump blood.
Since this condition forces the heart to work harder, it can damage the heart muscles and harm its ability to relax. Hypertension also damages blood vessels, thereby increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems.
To establish if you have hypertension, your doctor will take your blood pressure readings on three different days or schedules over a period of one week or more.
It is important that you feel relaxed and calm during these sessions so that results will show the most genuine and accurate readings. Your doctor may also use an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to determine any abnormal heart rhythms.
You may also be asked to measure your blood pressure periodically at home using an electronic monitor or by wearing a portable unit that takes such measurements since you will feel less anxious and more comfortable in a natural, familiar environment.
When all the readings and tests have been made and the results consistently show that your systolic blood pressure is 140 and higher and your diastolic pressure is 90 and above, you will be classified as having high blood pressure.
Lowering High Blood Pressure
Experts from a medical center in Dubai say that hypertension is a lifestyle-related health problem. As such, once you have been diagnosed with this condition, you need to make changes in your lifestyle to lower or control your low blood pressure.
If you are hypertensive, these are the five important lifestyle changes you have to make and stick with:
1. Maintain a healthy weight
If you are overweight, you need to get rid of those extra pounds. Keep in mind that excess weight increases your blood pressure. People who are overweight also tend to have breathing problems while they are asleep which can cause blood pressure to rise.
Once you have been diagnosed with hypertension, you need to lose all the excess pounds and keep the right weight which will be easy since you have to make and commit to the next important lifestyle changes.
2. Exercise Regularly
To lower your blood pressure, the European Society of Hypertension guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 to 7 days per week. Walking briskly, the simplest form of workout, for 30 to 45 minutes at least 5 days a week, can help lower your blood pressure up to 10 points.
To get the best results, health experts recommend combining an aerobic activity that you enjoy such as walking, cycling, or swimming with a form of resistance exercise such as lifting light weights. However, before committing to a regular workout program, consult your doctor first.
The good thing about exercising regularly is that you experience two important benefits: you improve your body’s arterial health and you effectively burn calories which means you’ll effectively lose weight and be in better shape.
3. Follow a Healthy Diet
Changing your eating habits is a key lifestyle modification you have to make when you have high blood pressure. Although there are different healthy diet programs you can consider, there is a simple one that you can easily follow: the DASH diet.
Under the ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’ or DASH diet, you will have to eat foods rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, dietary fiber, and protein and low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Some of the staple foods under this diet are:
- Low or non-fat dairy products
- Whole grains
You will also need to avoid or minimise your intake of saturated and trans fats, sweets, sugary drinks, and red meats.
When you combine regular workouts and have a healthy, well-balanced diet, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce your weight.
4. Minimize Smoking and Alcohol Consumption
Smoking and drinking alcohol cause your blood vessels to constrict, which leads to higher blood pressure. Lowering your consumption of alcohol and number of cigarettes per day will help reduce your blood pressure. You will also lower your risk for other kinds of cardiovascular diseases.
5. Reduce your Salt Intake
Most commonly, high blood pressure is a sign of salt-sensitive hypertension. When you cut down the amount of salt you consume, you will see a positive change in your blood pressure. Experts recommend keeping your sodium intake to between 2,000 to 2,500 mg daily.
[pullquote align=”normal”]Aside from taking it easy on sprinkling salt on your food, be wary of the sodium content of the products you frequently buy and eat. [/pullquote]
Your doctor may also prescribe some medication that will help lower your blood pressure. By following your doctor’s advice and improving your lifestyle, you can reduce your blood pressure and be in better health overall.
Dr. K R Menon has been practicing Paediatrics in Dubai for more than two decades. He has a Masters degree in Paediatrics from India and has worked in the prestigious Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences & Research, Chandigarh, India before moving to Dubai. He is the Medical Director and Specialist Paediatrics at Panacea Medical & Wellness Centre since March 2011.
Besides providing comprehensive paediatric care to his patients, he is actively involved in school health programmes and keeping in line with his passion for continuing medical education, he is currently pursuing a course in paediatric nutrition from Boston University.