Half of all the people who have high blood pressure don’t know they have it. Of those who do know about seven out of every ten don’t have their blood pressure under control. So if you have no idea what your blood pressure is, ask your doctor to check it. If you’ve already been diagnosed with hypertension, make sure you follow the advice your doctor has given you. The cornerstones of treatment are exercises and diet changes. Even if your doctor has prescribed blood pressure lowering medication, these lifestyle efforts are essential.
• Studies in the USA have shown that a diet known as DASH (short for dietary approaches to stop hypertension) is very effective at lowering blood pressure. The gist of the diet is this; it’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy foods. A diet based on these principals can produce positive results-a reduction in blood pressure in as little as two weeks.
• Reduce your salt intake. Eating too much salt causes your body to retain water. The effect is the same as adding more liquid to an overfilled water balloon; pressure rises. In a follow up to the DASH study, researches found that the biggest drop in blood pressure came when people followed the DASH diet and also limited themselves to 1500mg of sodium a day. That’s less than a teaspoon of salt a day.
A high blood pressure reading means your heart is working harder than it should to pump blood, and your arteries are stressed. That’s risky. If you don’t lower your blood pressure, you face an increased risk of stroke heart attack kidney disease and other deadly illness. You are considered to have high blood pressure (hypertension) when systolic pressure (the top number) is 140 or higher or the diastolic pressure (bottom number) is 90 or higher. But whenever your blood pressure starts to creep up, your doctor will urge you to take measures to control it.
• Even if you don’t add salt to your food during cooking or at the table, you may still be getting a considerable amount of hidden salt in packaged and processed foods, especially snacks meat products and tinned soups. So before buying food, read labels carefully to find out the sodium or salt content. Look for low salt soups and biscuits and rinse beans and other foods canned in brine before using them.
• Try making your own bread. If you have a bread maker, it takes less than 5 minutes a day to tip in the ingredients and 2 hours later there’s the bread.Why bother? Because most shop bread contains high level of salt, and you can control exactly how much salt and fat goes into a homemade loaf. And it’s delicious and makes the house smell wonderful.
Do or Don’t:
• Porridge is good in two ways it helps to lower blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels as some studies have shown. Its beneficial effects seems to come from a form of soluble fibre known as beta glucan. If you start every day with a bowl of porridge, your blood pressure will probably fall.
• Cut back on alcohol. Heavy drinkers tend to have high blood pressure. If you do drink limit yourself to one drink a day if you’re woman, two a day if you’re a man. One drink is half a pint of standard strength beer, a small glass of wine or a single pub measure of spirits.
Lose some excess baggage
• Carrying extra weight forces the heart to pump harder. That’s why blood pressure rises as body weight increases. If you’re overweight losing as little as 5 kilos can lead to a significant reduction in blood pressure.
If you smoke give it up now. Compounds in tobacco smoke contribute to hardening of the arteries by causing injury to blood vessels. And the nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to constrict. That’s bad for anyone, but it is especially bad for people who have high blood pressure.
Relax & Seek peace:
• Consider getting a pet. Whether walking a dog, sitting with a cat on your knee or even gazing at a thankful of fish, interacting with animals has been shown to bring noticeable decrease in blood pressure.
• Learn to meditate. This isn’t New Age silliness. Research shows that meditation really does affect blood pressure, apparently by lowering levels of stress hormones in your body. To begin choose a simple word or phrase to focus on. Close your eyes and relax all your muscles. Breathing slowly and naturally, repeat your word or phrase every time you exhale. As you do this try to assume a passive attitude. Don’t try to evaluate whether you’re relaxed or doing well just concentrate on your words and your breathing. Do this once or twice a day for 10 to 20 minutes.
• Engrossing hobbies such as gardening playing a musical instrument or tapestry making may be just as beneficial as meditation.
• Garlic helps to lower blood pressure, too, although it’s not known why. Some experts recommend simply eating a clove of raw garlic a day. Others advise taking dried concentrate equivalent to 4g fresh garlic a day. If you opt for supplements, choose enteric coated capsules for best results.
•Take fish oil supplements to boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s inhibit the body’s production of substances such as prostaglandins, that narrow the arteries. These good fats come from oily fish like mackerel and salmon; a typical supplements contains 1000mg. Taking two doses a day encourages good circulation and can help to reduce high blood pressure. Or take 1 tablespoon of flax seed oil a day, stirred into fruit juice or mixed into salad dressing.
Call the doctor?
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, call your doctor at once if you experience chronic headache palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue nosebleeds, blurred vision, flushed face, frequent urination or ringing in the ears. These symptoms suggest that your blood pressure is not being adequately controlled.