Mr. Kola was rushed to the hospital one morning after complaining of chest pain, severe headaches, and shortness of breath. At the hospital, he was diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) and was placed on medication. What else can Mr. Kola do to maintain good blood pressure?
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a disease that destroys the blood vessels and increases a person's risk for heart disease and stroke.
High blood pressure is called a silent killer because it can be present with no symptoms. Getting your blood pressure checked is the only way to diagnose hypertension.
Let's look at some wellness tips to improve blood pressure.
A sedentary lifestyle (involves sitting for long periods of time with minimal movement) can put you at risk for high blood pressure. Research has shown that regular physical activity can temporarily reduce blood pressure levels by 5 to 8 mmHg. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. Aerobic exercise is recommended, and this includes swimming, walking, jogging, dancing, and cycling.
Strength training, which covers activities such as lifting weights and squatting can also help reduce blood pressure.
Monitor your blood pressure
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, make sure you keep an eye on it. You can monitor your blood pressure at home with electronic blood pressure monitors, or you can visit the hospital, pharmacy, or other health centers to check it regularly. Constant monitoring helps you track any changes as they occur and enables you to take fast action.
Quality sleep is essential
You put yourself at risk for hypertension when you get less than six hours of sleep every night for a long period of time. During sleep, most body functions slow down and undergo repair in preparation for the next day. If you sleep poorly, your body loses the chance to repair and restore. Try to maintain a sleep schedule by going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day. Avoid large meals, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine close to bedtime.
Reduce salt and increase potassium
Did you know that reducing salt and increasing potassium can result in better blood pressure? Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is important for various body functions. However, too much salt can disrupt the fluid balance in the body and result in increased blood pressure. Experts recommend no more than 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of salt per day to reduce the risk of heart disease and hypertension.
On the other hand, low levels of potassium have been linked to an increased risk of hypertension. Potassium, just like sodium, plays many vital roles in the body. But most importantly, it can offset the negative effects of sodium in the body and keep blood pressure within a healthy range. Foods rich in potassium include bananas, lentils, salmon, spinach, yoghurt, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.
A call to action
High blood pressure is quite common and can lead to serious complications such as stroke and kidney disease if left unchecked. While medication is often necessary to control high blood pressure, key lifestyle changes are vital. Try to sleep more, cut down on sodium (salt), avoid alcohol and cigarettes, avoid foods rich in saturated and trans fats, and exercise frequently to attain and maintain better blood pressure levels.