Simple ways to keep your blood pressure under controlMonday, November 01, 2021
HYPERTENSION or high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart and kidney disease, as well as stroke.
In Jamaica the condition is simply called 'pressure', and it occurs when blood pumping through the circulatory system is under higher-than-normal pressure — like the water in a pipe.
And similar to the way high water pressure can damage the pipe, high blood pressure can damage the arteries.
It's a condition that's worrying for authorities — the Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) has expressed concern about the high number of individuals suffering from high blood pressure.
The HFJ has said that Jamaicans need to work harder to reduce the number of people suffering from the disease. But how do you keep your blood pressure under control?
The Mayo Clinic says:
1. Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline. Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Being overweight also can cause disrupted breathing while you sleep (sleep apnoea), 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, while skimping on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure. This eating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Be a smart shopper. Read food labels when you shop and stick to your healthy-eating plan when you're dining out, too.
8. Eat fewer processed foods. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing.
9. Don't add salt. Just one level teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices to add flavour to your food.
10. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. By drinking alcohol only in moderation — generally one drink a day for women or two a day for men — you can potentially lower your blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
11. Quit smoking. Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure for many minutes after you finish. Stopping smoking helps your blood pressure return to normal. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health.
12. 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.
13. Reduce your stress. Chronic stress may contribute to high blood pressure.
14. 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.