Over 20 million people are suffering from high blood pressure across Nigeria. According to research, this number is calculated as 30.7% among men and 25.2% among women.
Blood pressure can be defined as the amount of force or pressure that your blood puts on the walls of your arteries (blood vessels) as it flows through.
With that mind, high blood pressure (also called hypertension) means when your blood pressure is consistently too high. This can pose a lot of health threats such as heart failure, vision loss, stroke, kidney disease, and even death.
The exact causes of high blood pressure are not known, but several things may play a role, including: Smoking, Being overweight or obese, Lack of physical activity, Too much salt in the diet.
Other causes are Too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day), Stress, Older age, Genetics, Family history of high blood pressure, Chronic kidney disease, Adrenal and thyroid disorders, Sleep apnea.
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you might be worried about taking medication to bring your numbers down.
Lifestyle is an important role in treating your high blood pressure. If you successfully control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you might avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication.
Here are 7 lifestyle changes that can help keep your blood pressure down:
1. Lose Weight
Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Being overweight also can cause disrupted breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), which further raises your blood pressure.
Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure. Losing even a small amount of weight if you’re overweight or obese can help reduce your blood pressure.
In general, you may reduce your blood pressure by about 1 millimeter of mercury (mm Hg) with each kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of weight you lose.
Besides shedding pounds, you generally should also keep an eye on your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure.
2. Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity — such as 150 minutes a week, or about 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.
It’s important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again.If you have elevated blood pressure, exercise can help you avoid developing hypertension.
If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.
Some examples of exercise you may try to lower blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing.
3. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.
You can engage in an eating plan, this eating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.It isn’t easy to change your eating habits, but with these tips, you can adopt a healthy diet:
– Keep a food diary: Writing down what you eat, even for just a week, can shed surprising light on your true eating habits. Monitor what you eat, how much, when and why.
– Consider boosting potassium: Potassium can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The best source of potassium is food, such as fruits and vegetables, rather than supplements. Talk to your doctor about the potassium level that’s best for you.
4. Reduce sodium in your diet
Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can improve your heart health and reduce blood pressure by about 5 to 6 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.
The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure varies among groups of people. In general, limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less. However, a lower sodium intake — 1,500 mg a day or less — is ideal for most adults.
To decrease sodium in your diet, consider these tips:
– Read food labels: If possible, choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy.
– Eat fewer processed foods: Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing.
– Don’t add salt: Just 1 level teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your food.
– Ease into it: If you don’t feel you can drastically reduce the sodium in your diet suddenly, cut back gradually. Your palate will adjust over time.
5. Cut back on caffeine
The role caffeine plays in blood pressure is still debated. Caffeine can raise blood pressure up to 10 mm Hg in people who rarely consume it. But people who drink coffee regularly may experience little or no effect on their blood pressure.
Although the long-term effects of caffeine on blood pressure aren’t clear, it’s possible blood pressure may slightly increase.
To see if caffeine raises your blood pressure, check your pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a caffeinated beverage. If your blood pressure increases by 5 to 10 mm Hg, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine. Talk to your doctor about the effects of caffeine on your blood pressure.
6. Reduce your stress
Chronic stress may contribute to high blood pressure. More research is needed to determine the effects of chronic stress on blood pressure. Occasional stress also can contribute to high blood pressure if you react to stress by eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol or smoking.
Take some time to think about what causes you to feel stressed, such as work, family, finances or illness. Once you know what’s causing your stress, consider how you can eliminate or reduce stress.
If you can’t eliminate all of your stressors, you can at least cope with them in a healthier way. Make time to relax and to do activities you enjoy.
Take time each day to sit quietly and breathe deeply. Make time for enjoyable activities or hobbies in your schedule, such as taking a walk, cooking or volunteering.
Also expressing gratitude to others can help reduce your stress.
7. Monitor your blood pressure at home and see your doctor regularly
Home monitoring can help you keep tabs on your blood pressure, make certain your lifestyle changes are working, and alert you and your doctor to potential health complications.
Blood pressure monitors are available widely and without a prescription. Talk to your doctor about home monitoring before you get started.
Regular visits with your doctor are also key to controlling your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is well-controlled, check with your doctor about how often you need to check it.
Curled from Mayoclinic