Blood pressure is a measure of the strength of the blood pushing against the various blood vessels as it flows through the human body. A blood pressure reading has two numbers: one is the systolic or the highest indicated pressure and the other diastolic or the lowest pressure when the heart is relaxed.
The normal range of blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg – 140/90 mmHg and any reading above this range is termed as hypertension. So why is hypertension dangerous? Hypertension makes the heart pump harder to push blood to the organs of the body which can result in stroke or heart failure. Untreated hypertension is a major cause of kidney failure and atherosclerosis – condition where the walls of the arteries harden.
Hypertension is caused by obesity, stress, age, genetics, underlying diseases such as thyroid, kidney ailments and lifestyle issues such as stress, smoking and consumption of alcohol. While it should be a cause for concern, hypertension can be controlled through medicines and lifestyle changes. Here are some of the most relevant lifestyle recommendations for hypertension that will keep your blood pressure under control.
1. Quit Smoking Right Now!
Smoking messes with your blood pressure like no other. Did you know that the effects of one cigarette last for more than 15 minutes on your blood pressure? As compared to non-smokers, those who smoke are at three times higher risk of stroke and up to six times higher risk of myocardial infarction or a massive heart attack. From cancers to coronary diseases, smoking causes it all. Therefore, the first thing to do is to kick the butt.
2. Restrict Salt Intake
Your taste buds may not agree to it, but your blood pressure certainly will. Excess salt than what is required by the human body ups the blood pressure in an individual. Clinical studies conducted on hypertensive patients have proved a direct link between salt intake and blood pressure. A reduction in salt intake showed a positive improvement on the systolic blood pressure reading that often leads to a reduction in the need for anti-hypertensive drugs.
3. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Those who believed studies that claimed alcohol (wine especially) in small amounts was good for the heart, be prepared to be disappointed. Recent and new studies prove that reducing alcohol consumption straight away reduces blood pressure. Lifestyle recommendations for hypertension limit men to reduce their drink to two and women to one in a single day, with at least two days in a week without any ounce of alcohol at all.
4. Lose Those Extra Kilos
Abdominal adiposity or belly fat has a direct association with blood pressure. Shedding weight has a drastic effect on blood pressure, to say the least. Even losing a few kilos has been found to be extremely beneficial for patients suffering from hypertension. Losing weight helps your heart to become healthier and reduces the risk for insulin resistance, diabetes, sleep apnea, hyperlipidaemia (excess lipids in the blood) to name a few.
5. Walk Your Heart Back To Health
Lack of physical activity is a prime reason for increased blood pressure and the solution is a rather simple one – Walking. Take 40 mins in a day out to walk your heart back to health. And not just your heart, but your kidneys, pancreas, liver and every other organ in your body. While workouts and more intense physical activities are recommended, walking is the lowest common denomination to get your blood pressure down.
6. Eat Healthy
Nutrition is a basic requirement for the human body and its systems. Eating healthy foods is a necessity to bring down your blood pressure. Oily and greasy foods and high calorific sugary diets have been found to have a direct connection with increase blood pressure levels. Switch to salads, veggies, low carb chicken and fish meals, fruits while avoiding red meats and sugar.
7. Monitor Your Blood Pressure
Health checkups at monitored intervals are a must for patients suffering from high blood pressure. It is recommended that you keep a blood pressure monitor at home and note the readings at particular times of the day or week. This would keep you abreast of your blood pressure and any deviations in the readings. This is especially important if you are on anti-hypertensive medicines. In the elderly especially, a particular anti-hypertensive drug may stop working and have to be replaced by another.
8. Take Your Medications
Unless otherwise advised by your medical practitioner or doctor, continue to take your medicines as prescribed. Make a note or give yourself a reminder through an alarm so that you do not forget or skip doses. You might be tempted to go off the anti-hypertensive medicines once the readings get within the normal range, but do not do it without consulting your doctor. Unless you have had a temporary condition like gestational or pregnancy-related hypertension, your blood pressure is unlikely to normalise without medicines.
9. Yoga for High Blood Pressure
Yoga has always been a beneficial therapy for controlling high blood pressure. As it involves stretching body parts which soothes the body and mind, thus, reduces the stress. However, it is advised to consult with your doctor about the asanas to perform. As few Yoga poses are not found to be suitable for specific diseases. In general, asanas that don’t invert the body are considered to be beneficial for people with hypertension.