Did you know that the 17th of May is National Hypertension Day?
To raise awareness about National Hypertension Day, we thought we’d talk about high blood pressure. This is a short guide telling you what hypertension is and what you can do about it.
What is hypertension?
Hypertension is the name given to high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is high, you are putting pressure on your heart, blood vessels and other organs.
High blood pressure decreases the flow of blood around your heart and organs which means you don’t get the oxygen you need to your heart.
Having high blood pressure or hypertension can lead to conditions such as heart disease, strokes, vascular dementia, and kidney disease. You could also suffer from chest pain and angina.
But many people with high blood pressure don’t show any symptoms until they become ill and that’s why you should have your blood pressure checked regularly.
What’s normal blood pressure?
Normal blood pressure should give a reading of between 90/60 or 120/80. If your blood pressure reading is 140/90 or higher, you are considered to be at risk of hypertension.
What causes high blood pressure?
There are various causes of hypertension. They include:
- Being overweight
- Not doing much exercise
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Too much salt
- Lack of quality sleep
- Being over the age of 65
How can I find out my blood pressure reading?
You can ask to have your blood pressure taken at your local pharmacy. Just speak to your pharmacist about it. You can also ask at your doctors or take your own readings from a monitor you have at home.
How do you treat high blood pressure?
Your blood pressure readings can come down by making lifestyle changes. So at the start of National Hypertension Day, try and make some changes to improve your lifestyle.
If you are overweight, try to eat less and lose some of the excess weight you are carrying. Losing weight not only reduces your blood pressure but carrying less weight will also help you if you have painful joints or backache. You can lose weight by reducing the amount of sugary carbohydrates and fat in your diet.
By eating more protein you’ll stay fuller for longer which will help sugar cravings. If you are strapped for time, consider investing in a slow cooker.
With a slow cooker, you can prepare your meals the night before and leave them to cook while you’re at work. Batch cooking at the weekends can also help and putting your meals in Tupperware might help you with portion control too.
Making small changes like cutting down on bread can help if you’re the sort of person that has toast in the mornings, a sandwich for lunch and bread with your meal in the evening.
Give up Smoking
Smoking causes blood pressure to rise which in turn can cause heart disease. Speak to your pharmacist or doctor about the methods you can use to help you give up.
Keep Your Alcohol intake to recommended limits
Blood pressure goes up if you’re drinking regularly over time. Try and stick to 14 units a week and include alcohol-free days during the week.
Reduce your salt intake
Salt will raise your blood pressure. Try to avoid adding salt to your meals. You’ll be surprised how much salt there already is in most foodstuffs you buy from the supermarket.
Compare labels too and buy low salt alternatives. You can make meals tasty by learning how to use herbs and spices in your cooking instead. Have a look at this article on the BBC good food website
Do some exercise
Exercise helps to keep your heart in good condition. It also helps you to maintain your weight and helps your strength and flexibility. You don’t need to go to the gym to do exercise. Walking is an excellent way of keeping active and so is gardening.
But if you like sports then you can try cycling or swimming.