Hypertension: Lower Your Blood Pressure In 6 Easy Steps
High blood pressure affects 1 in 3 individuals and can cause serious and irreversible damage. Yet, those affected can be completely unaware of their condition. Fortunately, the control button is your hands. Because high blood pressure increases the risk of heart diseases, kidney diseases and diabetes, the WHO will be focusing on hypertension throughout the year.
High blood pressure has come to be known as a ‘silent killer’ and affects every third person above the age of 18. The proportion increases with age, from 1 in 10 people in their 20s and 30s to 5 in 10 people in their 50s, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Early detection is important and all adults need to know their blood pressure or keep tabs on the same. Early diagnosis check ups cost less than the long-term costs and complications of untreated high blood pressure.
Although high BP does not have a cure, it can be managed or prevented by low-cost lifestyle changes and medication as prescribed by your doctor. You can reduce your blood pressure by making some small changes in your life.
1. Cut the salt: Limiting sodium helps control high blood pressure in those who have it and helps prevent it in those who don’t. The WHO recommends no more than 2,000 mg of sodium or five grams of salt — the equivalent of one tea spoon — per day. Beware especially of processed and packaged foods, fast foods, and canned foods – all common sources of excessive salt.
2. Eat potassium: This mineral helps lower blood pressure. The recommended daily intake for adults is 3,510 mg. Potassium-rich foods include: beans and peas (approximately 1,300 mg of potassium per 100 g), nuts (approximately 600 mg/100 g), vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and parsley (approximately 550 mg/100 g) and fruits such as bananas, papayas and dates (approximately 300 mg/100 g).
3. Modify your diet: Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables for fibre and reduce processed foods in your diet. Avoid salty food like sauces, pickles, chips etc. Fruits and vegetables are low in sodium and high in potassium which helps in lowering blood pressure. Reduce fatty and fried food, especially saturated fats/transfats and replace them with polyunsaturated fats.
4. Check your weight: Blood pressure tends to increase as weight does. Every five kg of excess weight lost can reduce systolic blood pressure by two to 10 points. Fortunately, it’s also true that BP tends to drop as weight does. For optimum health, an adult should maintain a Body Mass Index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight, between 18.5 to 24.9 Kg/m2.
5. Exercise: Stressful situations can cause temporary BP spikes therefore being physically active is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or control high blood pressure. Getting enough sleep, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and exercising for at least 30 minutes daily can help reduce stress. Examples of moderate activities are brisk walking, cycling, gardening and housework.
6. Limit alcohol: Not only does too much alcohol raise blood pressure, repeated excess drinking can lead to long-term BP increases. It is important to limit your alcohol intake.
Related Article: 5 Ways to Beat Hypertension
*Image courtesy: © Photl
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