High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often called the silent killer. It’s linked to many different health problems, like cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. Many people don’t realise that high blood pressure can be lowered by making certain lifestyle changes, adopting healthy living practices or by taking certain medication and supplements. Bloom, together with their partner, Momentum Health4Me, discuss the implications of hypertension and how you can lower high blood pressure.
What is blood pressure and why is high blood pressure dangerous?
Your blood pressure is the measure of force that your heart uses to pump blood all around your body. Blood pressure is measured in two parts: the systolic blood pressure (first number), which indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against the artery walls and the diastolic blood pressure (second number), which indicates how much pressure the blood is exerting against the artery walls while the heart is resting between the beats. An ideal blood pressure reading is between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg while a high blood pressure reading is considered anything over 140/90mmHg or higher.
High blood pressure is a problem because it raises your risk of developing serious health-related such as:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease or failure
- Sexual dysfunction
The Heart & Stroke Foundation classifies five different stages of blood pressure categories. These are:
- Normal. 120/80mmHg. This falls within the normal range.
- Elevated.120-129 systolic and less than 80mmHg diastolic. This means you are likely to develop high blood pressure unless you take preventative measures.
- Hypertension Stage 1. This is when your blood pressure consistently ranges from 130-139 systolic and 80-89mmHg diastolic. Lifestyle changes are recommended. Doctors may prescribe medication. You are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
- Hypertension Stage 2. This is when your blood pressure consistently ranges from 140/90mmHg or higher. Doctors will prescribe medication. Lifestyle changes are highly advisable in order to reduce the risk of health complications.
- Hypertensive crisis. This category requires medical attention. Contact a medical professional if your blood pressure exceeds 180/120mmHg.
How to lower blood pressure?
- Start an exercise routine and stick to it. Regular exercise activity will get our heart pumping and help lower blood pressure. It doesn’t have to be extremely strenuous cardio workouts. Expert recommend that you commit to a weekly routine of 150 minutes of moderate activity, like walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, like running, for best results. You can also consider other activities like playing team sports, swimming, gardening, walking the dog, going for a bike ride or even taking the stairs.
- Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol has been linked to high blood and there is some supporting evidence that caffeine also plays a part in raising one’s blood pressure. It is recommended to limit your alcohol and caffeine intake or cut it out completely.
- Manage your stress levels. Poor stress management can lead to anxiety, which causes a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels. Each person needs to find a healthy way to balance the pressures of life and practise effective self-care. This could be something relaxing like breathing techniques, yoga or meditation.
- Lose weight. High blood pressure is often associated with a high body mass index. Losing those extra kilograms could significantly lower your blood pressure. Speak with a dietician or nutritionist about getting a health plan designed to help you shed the extra kilos.
- Quit smoking. Smoking has many harmful health implications, among these respiratory-related risks, and high blood pressure. It’s always advisable to quit. If you need help doing so, take a look at some of the resources available to help you do so.
- Take natural supplements. There are a number of natural herbs and supplements you can take to help lower blood pressure. Some of these include fish oil, whey protein and garlic.
- Get enough sleep. Studies have linked those people with poor sleep quality patterns with elevated blood pressure levels. Make sure you get a restful night’s sleep, which is at least seven to nine hours each night.
- The DASH Diet: Foods that lower blood pressure. DASH stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension, which is possible as a healthy diet can have a big impact on maintaining healthy blood pressure. Foods with an excessive amount of sugar, salt and saturated fat are known to contribute to hypertension. Sodium, for instance, will cause you to retain fluids, which in turn raises your blood volume and pressure, which is why it is recommended to limit your intake. Heart-healthy foods are recommended if you’re trying to follow a low blood pressure diet. This includes eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as whole grains, lean fish and poultry, and nuts and legumes. Foods that are known to lower blood pressure naturally include:
- Leafy greens. Spinach, kale, lettuce and rocket are all high in potassium, which helps your kidneys get rid of more sodium when you urinate.
- Olive oil. This is a healthy fat and contains polyphenols, which is an inflammation-fighting compound that can lower blood pressure.
- Berries. Blueberries and strawberries are antioxidants and natural flavonoids that can prevent hypertension.
- Milk and yoghurt. Both these options are excellent sources are calcium for bone health and have important compounds for reducing one’s risk of developing high blood pressure.
- Fatty fish. Fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, like tuna, salmon or sardines, will help reduce your blood pressure. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin D.
- Oatmeal. Fibre is an important food group and a key way to lowering one’s blood pressure. Powering up on a low-sodium oatmeal breakfast is definitely the smart way to start the day.
- Nuts and seeds. Unsalted nuts or seeds are high in potassium and will also assist in lowering one’s blood pressure. Try sunflower, pumpkin and pistachio as a healthy snack between meals or in salads.
- Dark chocolate or cocoa. This food contains flavonoids that help blood vessels dilate and assists in lowering one’s blood pressure.
Health and blood pressure assessment with Health4Me
Bloom encourages healthy lifestyle living, like maintaining a regular exercise plan and sticking to a nutritious diet. We also provide the annual health assessment for Momentum Health4Me members so you can be sure of your blood pressure levels. The assessment is conducted at a participating pharmacy and includes a blood pressure check, cholesterol and blood sugar finger prick test, and weight measurement. All these screenings will provide information about your health and will allow you to decide whether you need to make any lifestyle changes. The health assessment is available to all Momentum Health4Me Gold, Silver and Bronze members.
Get Momentum Health4Me health insurance quote
Living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to ensure a normal blood pressure level. Commit to regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, make smart lifestyle choices and get your annual check-ups. Get health insurance cover with Bloom Financial Services that ensure you will have access to top-quality medical services if you need it. Contact our team of trained consultants and get a free health insurance quote for you and your family.
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