Dr Praveen Kulkarni, consultant-cardiologist, Global Hospitals Mumbai tells you how to take control of your life and lead a healthy life.
Hypertension has become a lifestyle disease.
It can best be prevented by practicing a healthy lifestyle with good amount of diet and exercise.
Also referred to as high blood pressure, is a condition in which the arteries have persistently elevated blood pressure.
Every time the human heart beats, it pumps blood to the whole body through the arteries.
High BP can cause damage to critical organs and conditions such as stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.
Hence it is important to go for regular check-ups, start the treatment early and control it in its earliest stages. Here's how:
1. Healthy lifestyle
Consume diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
Eating healthful foods can help keep your blood pressure under control.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in potassium, and limit your intake of excess calories, fat, and sugar. Avoid junk foods.
2. Exercise regularly
Physical activity is crucial. 30 to 60 minutes daily exercise can lower your blood pressure.
Regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.
Running, walking, swimming, cycling and other physical exercise can bring down your blood pressure significantly.
3. Reduce salt intake
Higher the sodium intake, higher the blood pressure.
Avoiding high-sodium packaged and processed foods and not adding extra salt to your meals is effective in reducing blood pressure.
Salt intake should be cut down gradually.
4. Limit the amount of alcohol intake
Too much alcohol raises blood pressure to unhealthy levels.
Heavy drinkers can lower their blood pressure by moderate alcohol consumption.
If a heavy drinker suddenly stops alcohol he is at risk of developing severe blood pressure for some time.
They need to consult their doctor upon deciding to quit alcohol.
5. Quit smoking
Smoking is a significant contributor of hypertension.
When a person smokes, chews or sniffs tobacco, nicotine goes into the bloodstream, which is why the body craves more of it.
Nicotine raises blood pressure and also makes our heart beat fast.
However, smoking cessation is an effective lifestyle measure for prevention.
6. Regular check-up
Regular visit to your doctor helps keep tab on blood pressure.
High blood pressure often occurs with no symptoms, so, only a blood reading determines your blood pressure rise.
It is recommended for the hypertensive to monitor their blood pressure consistently.
7. Reduce stress
Negative emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness can severely limit your ability to cope with the unavoidable everyday stresses of life.
It's not the stressful events themselves that are harmful, but your lack of ability to cope.
Managing the stress in your life effectively may help reduce your blood pressure.
8. Aim for a healthy weight
Carrying extra weight increases risk of high blood pressure.
If you're overweight or obese, losing weight may be enough to get your blood pressure under control.
Also carrying too much weight around your waist has a greater risk of high blood pressure. Thus, the more weight you lose, the lower your blood pressure will be.
9. Good sleep
Sleep helps your blood regulate stress hormones and helps your nervous system remain healthy.
Not getting enough sleep could be linked to increased blood pressure.
Sleeping 7 to 8 hours daily helps prevent and control blood pressure.
10. Skip caffeine
Coffee has some health benefits, but lowering blood pressure isn't one of them.
Caffeine can cause short-term spikes in blood pressure, even in people without hypertension.
Coffee and other caffeinated drinks and foods may exacerbate your condition.
If you have high blood pressure, it's a good idea to moderate your caffeine intake.
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons