Blood pressure is defined as the force at which blood is pumped from our heart and into our arteries. Ideally, blood pressure is considered to be expected if it is between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
High blood pressure or hypertension is when blood moves through the arteries more forcefully and puts intense pressure on the tissues in the arteries, damaging the blood vessels. Sounds bad? Well, the consequences are worse than that. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and strokes. High blood pressure often has no symptoms and is therefore called the “silent killer”. Negative signs are only visible when there is significant damage done to the heart, at which point it becomes a major red flag.
Here are some tips for you to take care of your blood pressure –
- ADOPT AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
Exercise is the best way to get a move on. Working out for 30-60 minutes a day can prove to be extremely helpful. It not only keeps your blood pressure level at a check but also lifts your mood whilst enhancing strength and balance. Additionally, chances of contracting diabetes or other heart diseases decrease majorly.
If you are not a fan of the gym and have been inactive for quite some time now, talk to your doctor about a safe exercise routine. Go for a swim, jog, or even a hike and then gradually pick up your pace.
According to the AHA (American Heart Association), incorporating muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week is beneficial. It includes weight lifting, pushups, and other lean muscle mass building activities.
- THE DASH DIET
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet helps you lower your blood pressure by 11mmHg. It includes –
- Consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Eating low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish and nuts.
- Completely cutting off foods with high levels of saturated fats, such as full-fat dairy products, processed foods, and fatty meats.
This diet plan is designed to help you cut back on desserts and sugar-loaded beverages like soda and juice. Apart from the standard DASH diet, there is also a lower-sodium version of the same.
- SALT IS A BIG NO-NO
Sodium or common salt can spike up your blood pressure. After consuming a lot of sodium, some people start retaining unhealthy fluid in their bodies. Therefore, restricting sodium levels to a minimum is a must.
According to the AHA, the ideal sodium intake is between 1500mg and 2300mg per day, which is a little over half a tablespoon. To replace sodium in your diet, use herbs and spices to enhance the taste.
Processed foods contain a considerable quantity of sodium. So make sure to read the labels of whichever food item that you buy.
- GET RID OF THAT EXCESS WEIGHT
Your weight and your blood pressure are like close cousins; they go hand in hand. It’s not the number on your weighing machine scale that matters, but your waistline. Visceral fat, which is the extra fat around your waist, can be troublesome. It surrounds the various organs in your abdomen and can lead to serious health issues; one of which is, of course, a high blood pressure.
In an ideal situation, men’s waist measurement is supposed to be less than 40 inches. For women, it is considered to be less than 35 inches.
- LET GO OF SMOKING
Smoking is one of those activities that affect all the organs in your body. It is also one of the most preventable causes of all health issues. With every cigarette that you smoke, your blood pressure is raised. If you are a chain smoker, your blood pressure stays elevated for a long time.
People who suffer from high blood pressure and are also smokers are at greater risk of developing even higher blood pressure, heart attack and even a stroke. Quitting smoking will normalize your blood pressure levels. If you are someone who has tried to quit smoking repeatedly but failed, keep trying and know that persistence is the key. Visit your doctor in case you need help. Avoid passive smoking, as well.
- LIMIT YOUR ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can be lethal for your blood pressure as well as your overall general health. Having the occasional glass of wine with your dinner is no biggie, and when done in moderation can prove to be beneficial for the heart. A high level of alcohol consumption can even reduce the effectiveness of certain blood pressure medications.
According to the AHA, the recommended number of drinks for men is 2 per day and for women is 1 per day. Having more than three drinks in a day is considered to be excessive drinking for both men and women.
- SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR STRESS
With so much happening around us, it seems almost impossible to get a moment to ourselves to relax and breathe. It is vital to take a break when you are exhausted. Stress tends to raise your blood pressure temporarily.
A way to deal with it is to identify the source of your stress and understand what triggers it. It could be the responsibilities of a new job, your relationship or finances.
You can lessen your stress in healthy ways. Try practising some meditation, breathing exercises or even yoga.
High blood pressure, when not treated, can result in serious health complications, some of which include heart attacks, strokes and even kidney damage. Visit your doctor regularly and make sure your medications are up to date.
During your treatment, you might have to make lifestyle changes, go for therapy and be on medication. According to experts, each lifestyle change, on an average, can bring down your blood pressure by 4 to 5mmHg (top) and 2 to 3 mmHg diastolic (bottom). All in all, being healthy and happy is the key to a good life.