High blood pressure is often referred to as a silent killer since it rarely shows symptoms, but it increases the risk of diseases like stroke and heart attack. These diseases are among the leading cause of death in the world nowadays. Hypertension also causes other conditions like kidney failure, blindness, and congestive heart failure. Blood pressure is measured by the amount of blood pumped by your heart and the arteries’ resistance.
Causes of high blood pressure
Hypertension causes are categorized into non-modifiable causes (like family history, ethnicity, gender, and age) and modifiable risks (such as a lack of exercise, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, excess salt intake, and high caffeine consumption.
The good news is that several lifestyle changes can help maintain and reduce the risks of hypertension. Below are some of them.
As we get older age, the risk of hypertension increases. However, exercise can make a big difference. Also, if you already have hypertension, you will be able to maintain it through exercise. You should start small but regularly since daily physical activities translate to a healthy heart. A strong heart will require less effort to pump blood, which translates to reduced forces on the arteries and eventually a lower blood pressure.
Physically activities are proven to lower your blood pressure by an average of 6mm Hg. For some people, enough exercise is the only thing they require to control their hypertension. Normal blood pressure is considered to be less than 120/80 and exercise will help control it from rising as you grow old. Note that it might take a few months of training to see a difference in your blood pressure levels.
Aerobic exercise is an effective way to maintain your blood pressure but strengthening and flexibility exercises play an important role in the overall fitness plan. Many hours spent in the gym aren’t required to make a difference, but you should try to complete 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, according to the NHS. Physical activities that you can do include:
- Climbing stairs
- House chores like gardening
Whether you want to lose weight or not, eating a balanced diet can be a powerful means to improve your blood pressure. Taking a diet that is rich in vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and fruits can significantly reduce your blood pressure. You should avoid packaged and processed food in your diet and start taking whole and fresh food to maintain your blood pressure in a healthy range. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an excellent example of an eating plan that can support your blood pressure. It contains low amounts of sodium, saturated fats, cholesterol, and total fat.
The DASH eating plan also includes high potassium and calcium intake to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure numbers. For a perfect and effective DASH plan, you need to seek help from a doctor or a certified dietitian. You can change your eating habit through food diaries and being a smart shopper. A limited amount or no alcohol intake is also part of a good diet.
It is important to work with your care provider to reduce high blood pressure if you have it and prevent it if you are at risk. The two of you need to come up with a plan to achieve your blood pressure goals. Many medications, known as antihypertensives, are available on prescription to lower hypertension, plus there are several other drugs involved in different varieties of hypertension medication.
Blood pressure medications include:
- Alpha-blocker – helps to relax the muscle tone of the vascular walls
- Diuretics – help the body to reduce excess sodium
- Beta-blocker – regulates the way nerve impulses in the body affect blood flow
- Calcium channel blocker – prevent the entry of calcium into heart cells and arteries
- Vasodilators – allows blood vessels to dilate
The lifestyle changes you make to maintain your blood pressure will also benefit your general health in other ways. You will lower the risk of developing dementia, diabetes, and some cancer types when you stick to the recommended diet, exercise, medication, and weight guidelines. You can join a support group if you feel your family support is not enough.