Hypertension is a disease that often shows absolutely no symptoms but causes life-threatening conditions such as stroke and heart attack. Most patients are diagnosed with hypertension inadvertently during a doctor’s examination. It is also known as hipertensi in Malay.
Hypertension is diagnosed when patients have readings above 130/80 mmHg. There is namely, two types of hypertension; Primary hypertension (Essential hypertension) and Secondary hypertension. Of the two, primary or essential hypertension is the commonest. The disease depends on the genetic makeup and environmental factors in a person. It usually occurs in older age groups. Certain things that you genetically inherit may predispose you to hypertension such as race, family history of hypertension and gender. After 55, women are most likely to develop hypertension when compared to men in the same age group. Unhealthy lifestyle habits and being overweight and obese also poses the dangers of hypertension. Secondary hypertension, however, is caused by an underlying medical condition or certain medications that precipitates high blood pressure. Secondary hypertension usually subsides once the cause is treated or controlled.
Fortunately, there are certain lifestyle modifications to prevent the dangers of essential hypertension. Here are 7 steps to avoid hypertension.
People are made of what they eat. Making unhealthy diet choices is essentially the cause to many diseases in today’s world. Attempt to make a few changes to the daily diet. Limit the amount of salt (sodium) intake gradually, as to make time for the palate to adjust. Avoid certain Malaysian staples such as anchovies, dried fish, salted eggs, and pickles whenever possible. These are culprits that have extremely high salt content. If cutting out is impossible, cut down on these. Increase intakes of potassium, calcium, magnesium and fibre. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is a heart-healthy option that requires no special foods but provides nutritional goals to follow. Eat foods that have a lower fat content and have plenty of nutritious servings of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
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Sweat it off. Make an effort to get some regular exercises done. This does not necessarily involve expensive gym memberships and fitness classes. Brisk-walking, swimming, cycling, yoga and Pilates are aerobic exercises that promotes cardiovascular health, help shed a few pounds and they can be done within the vicinity of your home. Aerobics gets the heart pumping harder to meet the oxygen demand of the muscles and energy being used. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity workout done 5 times a week for an accumulative of 2 and the half hours or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobics. Aerobics burn off calories that is able to create a calorie deficient situation in the body and help lose excess weight. Aim to maintain body weight at a normal body mass index (BMI). This naturally would reduce the risk of developing hypertension and other related health problems.
3) Coping with stress
The paper chase in today’s world is stressful and deteriorating for some. High stress levels not only pose a risk of developing psychiatric issues like depression and anxiety but also medically related ones such as hypertension. Develop a coping mechanism to ward off the stress. Chronically high stress levels can cause blood pressure to rise and overtime cause hypertension. Find something that keeps you in your element. It could be exercising, shopping, reading, listening to music, meditating, or meeting friends. Possibilities are endless.
4)Limiting alcohol intake
The alcohol paradox. Alcohol can both lower and increase blood pressure. In moderation, one drink a day (no more than 2-3 units a day) for women and two (no more than 3 – 4 units a day) in men, alcohol is able to bring down blood pressure. However, drinking too much alcohol is detrimental to the well-being generally and in context of hypertension. Huge amounts of alcohol also affect anti-hypertensive medications making them less potent. It is not only the beer that can pad the belly. Too much of any kind of alcohol puts a person at risk of weight gain and a growing waistline. Make gradual changes to your drinking habits. Try lower calorie drinks, slower sipping and alternate drinks with no calorie soda.
Quit the puffs. Cigarettes are not only detrimental to your respiratory health, but it also affects the cardiovascular system. Smokers are at high risk to develop hypertension and heart attacks. Smoking narrows your arteries and in turn, causes a decrease in the amount of blood that flows through them. This affects the heart muscles, especially which is why heart attacks are common with smokers. Talk to a doctor to help you quit smoking. There are guides and medications that can help with your symptoms when you quit. They can aid your journey by prescribing nicotine replacements and introduce you to therapy that may help you in the long-term.
6) Cut down caffeine
Hold off the coffee. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and energy drinks are staples for many. However, drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day pose a great risk of developing hypertension in the near future. Caffeine, or anything else for that matter, in moderate amounts is completely fine. However, ensure that these beverages are not the only source of fluids in your diet.
7)Get a good night’s sleep
Catch a snooze. Sleep is vital for the well-being of a person. It is the time the body takes to rejuvenate and heal from the day long overhaul. It is advised to get 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Being chronically sleep deprived is bad for overall health and it increases the risk for a person to develop hypertension. Maintain a regular sleep – wake cycle and adhere to it. Put away your gadgets after turning off the lights especially, those that emits blue light. Screens are known to make sleeping harder.
Hypertension is silent but carries great morbidity and mortality dangers. Avoidance and prevention are always better than cure. Lower modifiable risk factors with simple lifestyle changes. Make improvements one step at a time to give the body time to adapt. Even the smallest of changes matter.