Lifestyle changes and Blood Pressure control
High blood pressure or hypertension is a condition that almost every other individual we see around is affected with. It is also called a silent killer as it does not manifest symptoms but can lead to serious and life-threatening conditions like stroke and heart diseases.
Blood pressure has two components: systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. The systolic blood pressure represents the top number which is the pressure in the blood vessels when the heartbeats, the diastolic blood pressure or bottom number represents pressure in the blood vessels when the heart is resting or in between the beats. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80. Blood pressure lower than 90/60 mm HG is considered as low blood pressure, a pressure of 130/80 or higher is considered to be high blood pressure.
The positive aspect of blood pressure is that certain modifications in lifestyle can help in maintaining normal blood pressure and hence reduces the chances of developing conditions associated with the disease.
Some effective ways of maintaining blood pressure are:
- Physical activity: Physical activity makes the heart stronger and it becomes more efficient in pumping blood with little effort. As per the recommendations of the American Heart Association 2013, a moderate to vigorous-intensity activity for about 40 minutes three to four times a week is helpful in maintaining a healthy heart.
If one finds 40 minutes of physical activity too stressful, then he/ she may opt for 10 to 15-minute sessions 3 to 4 times over a day. Involving in physical activity can be as simple as choosing stairs and not elevators, walking to work or to the market instead of driving, doing household chores, and playing an outdoor sport.
Exercises like aerobics, high-intensity interval training, short bouts of exercise throughout the day, even walking 10,000 steps may help in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
- Losing weight is another important factor that can help in blood pressure. It not only helps in maintaining blood pressure but will also reduce the chances of other medical conditions.
- Reducing sugar intake can significantly help in and controlling blood pressure.
- A low carb diet is found to be more effective in reducing blood pressure when compared to a low-fat diet.
- Increase potassium intake and reduce sodium intake. Potassium reduces the harmful effects of salt in the body. However, it is important to note that people having a Kidney Disease must abstain from diet rich in potassium.
- Cutting on salt reduces sodium intake significantly.
- Reducing processed food also helps in reducing salt intake in the diet. Processed foods have high quantity of salt in the form of preservatives. Foods carrying labels as low-fat are normally higher in salt and sugar content to replace for the low fat in them.
- Develop the habit of checking food labels while buying. As per recommendations of the U.S FDA, the sodium content of 5% or lesser is considered to be healthy whereas a sodium content of more than 20% is considered to be unhealthy.
- Quit smoking, doing this improves overall health condition. Smoking leads to an immediate short-term increase in blood pressure and heart rate. The chemical present in tobacco increases blood pressure, leads to injuries in the blood vessels, inflammation, and narrowing of arteries, etc.
Secondhand smokers are equally affected by people smoking around them. Studies have shown that children who live in a house having smokers, tend to have a higher blood pressure than children living in nonsmoking homes.
- Stress management by meditation, yoga, deep breathing, taking walks, reading books listening to music can help in controlling blood pressure. Stress has become one of the most important lifestyle factors that leads to many diseases in the long run. It is, therefore, of paramount importance to reduce stress.
- Reduce caffeine intake. Though caffeine is believed to have some health benefits, for people who are already hypertensive caffeine can increase their blood pressure further and lead to serious consequences.