Everyday tips to manage your blood pressure

High blood pressure or in medical terms — hypertension can be defined as the flow of blood through the arteries being pushed against the inside of the artery walls. The more pressure the blood exerts on the artery walls, the higher the blood pressure. High blood pressure has been labelled the silent killer — which most often has no symptoms, therefore a large amount of people may be suffering from high blood pressure and not realize it. By incorporating these tips into your daily life, the risk of suffering from high blood pressure can be reduced.

1. Exercise on a regular basis

Exercising at least 30 minutes on a daily basis lowers your blood pressure by 4–9 mmHg and assists in losing weight. Weight loss is one of the most effective ways in controlling blood pressure. Regular physical activity such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or strength training is beneficial for lowering blood pressure. Even a moderate amount of weight loss, such as 4–5 kg, is effective is reducing the risk of high blood pressure.

2. Eat healthy

A diet filled with foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits and low fat dairy products is key to maintaining a healthy diet. Reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol your body consumes can reduce your blood pressure by 14 mmHg. By monitoring your food intake, it can be surprising to realise how much unnecessary foods is consumed that may contribute to raising blood pressure.

3. Quit smoking

Smoking can be a difficult habit to give up. The primary issue in smoking is the nicotine within the cigarette. The effects of nicotine raises blood pressure and heart rate in addition to narrowing and hardening your artery walls, leading to blood clots. The stress smoking puts on your heart can set you up for a stroke or a heart attack. The temporary rise in blood pressure may be most conspicuous within the first cigarette of the day, even in inveterate smokers. In a study of normotensive smokers, an average rise was detected in systolic blood pressure of 20 mmHg after the first cigarette. Therefore giving up smoking helps your blood regulate at a normal rate and progressively returns to normal.

4. Medication

If your doctor has prescribed you medication to control your blood pressure, it is important to follow their instructions on how and when you must take it. If an individual was to stop taking their medication, their blood pressure can rise again to a dangerous level and can potentially damage other organs. If you have any concerns about the type of medication you are taking, consult your GP or cardiologist as they will be able to provide you with the best advice on what medication to take and how to manage your blood pressure.

5. Decrease alcohol consumption

The intake of an excess amount of alcohol can increase your blood pressure to dangerous levels. By limiting the amount of alcohol consumed, your blood pressure can be lowered by 2 to 4 mmHg. It is important to note that alcohol contains calories and can contribute to unwanted weight gain, leading to another risk factor for high blood pressure. Furthermore, alcohol can hinder with the effects of blood pressure medications.

6. Reduce your stress

Chronic stress highly contributes to increasing your risk of high blood pressure. Some individuals handle their stress by eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol or smoking which in turn adds to the risk of suffering from high blood pressure. However there are ways to cope with stress in a healthier manner. Make time to relax and partake in activities you enjoy, or take 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly and breathe deeply to clear your mind of anything that triggers your stress.

7. Reduce the amount of sodium consumed

If there is a substantial amount of sodium in your diet, it is recommendable to reduce the amount consumed to avoid a burst in your arteries or suffer from a heart attack. Decreasing your sodium intake by a small amount can lead to a reduction in your blood pressure from 2 to 8 mmHg. It is preferable to limit your sodium intake to 2300 mg a day or less, however a lower sodium intake of 1500 mg a day is required in individuals who are more sensitive to salt.

8. Cut back on caffeine

The effects of caffeine can raise an individual’s blood pressure by 10 mmHg in those who are rarely exposed to caffeinated beverages. However, individuals who have consumed a large amount of caffeine throughout their lifetime are not generally affected by the effects of caffeine. If you are concerned that caffeine raises your blood pressure, monitor your blood pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a caffeinated beverage — if your blood pressure increases by 5 to 10 mmHg, you may be sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

The effects of high blood pressure can damage your body discretely over a number of years. Untreated high blood pressure can damage organs over time and lead to a poor quality of life, stroke, heart disease or become a victim of a heart attack. High blood pressure can be treated and prevented at an early stage. The tips provided in this article can assist you in ways to modify your lifestyle and reduce your risk of life threatening complications.