What are the main benefits of reducing blood pressure and keeping it under control?
- Control of high blood pressure has been associated with reductions in stroke by about 40%, a heart attack by 25 % and heart failure by about 50 %.
What about diet and hypertension?
- Eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and lowering intake of saturated fats and high cholesterol consumption can lower blood pressure by 10 mm if you are hypertensive.
What about your waistline, weight and blood pressure?
- Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Being overweight also increases obstructive sleep apnea which further raises your blood pressure. Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes in controlling blood pressure. In general, you may reduce your blood pressure by 1 mm for every 1 kg weight loss. Carrying too much weight around your waistline can increase the possibility of hypertension. A waistline of greater than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women puts an individual at high risk. However, these numbers vary in different ethnic groups.
What about exercises and blood pressure?
- Please walk regularly if you are hypertensive. Walking about 30 minutes per day can reduce your blood pressure by 8 mm. Stopping exercising can cause a rise in blood pressure again. Hence you need to be consistent. Some aerobic activity that can help to reduce blood pressure includes walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. Aim to do strength training exercises at least twice a week. Discuss with your doctor as regards the safe and beneficial exercise program for your needs.
What about Sodium and Potassium in your diet?
- Even a small reduction in salt intake can reduce your blood pressure and thus improve your heart health. Low sodium intake of fewer than 2 grams per day is highly beneficial in most hypertensives. The best source of potassium is from fruits and vegetables. Potassium can lessen the effect of sodium on blood pressure. Cut down salt intake in your diet gradually so that your taste buds get adjusted to low sodium intake.
What about smoking and hypertension?
- Stopping smoking helps the blood pressure to return to normal and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Quitting smoking increases overall health. Each cigarette or beedi that you smoke increases your blood pressure for many minutes after you finish. People who stop smoking live longer.
What about stress and hypertension?
- People react to stress by eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol or smoking. Think about the factors that increase your stress levels. This may be illness, finances, work or family issues. Consider how you can reduce or eliminate stress. If you cannot eliminate them completely at least try to cope with them in a healthier way.
How to reduce stress?
- Change your expectations. Learn to say no. Certain things cannot be changed but focus on how to react to them. Avoid trying to do too much. Always plan to solve your stress factors. Avoid people who cause stress in your life. Make time to relax and to do activities that you enjoy. Do deep breathing exercises. Spend time on activities that you enjoy most. Monitor your blood pressure at home and see your doctor regularly. Expressing gratitude to others may reduce your blood pressure. Digital blood pressure instruments are available widely and are reliable.
What about support from family and friends?
- Be with people who are positive and encouraging. Positive support from family and friends reduces stress levels enormously. Do joint exercises and group walks, it makes you walk on a regular basis.
Author: Dr Jay Deshmukh
Dr Jay Deshmukh is Chief Physician and Director, Sunflower Hospital, Nagpur Honorary Physician to Honorable Governor of Maharashtra and PondicherryCentral. Dr Jay Deshmukh is an M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S., F.C.P.S., M.N.A.M.S., MD From Internal Medicine – Bombay and New Delhi.