7 Tips to Manage Hypertension

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What is hypertension?

Commonly known as high blood pressure, it occurs when the force exerted by the blood flow against the artery walls is consistently high to cause heart problems and other long-term health conditions.

Why managing hypertension is important

Hypertension is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’. Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to several life-threatening complications such as damaged blood vessels, impaired kidney function, heart failure, stroke, and heart attack.

How to manage hypertension

Certain changes to lifestyle and diet can significantly reduce or even prevent an increase in blood pressure levels. This is also true for people taking medications for hypertension. Let us look at some of the ways to manage hypertension.

Tip 1 - Become physically active

Regular exercise helps strengthens the muscles of the heart. A stronger heart pumps blood efficiently and puts less pressure on the arteries, resulting in lower blood pressure. As little as 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week can help lower blood pressure.

Tip 2 - Manage (or lose) weight

In obese/overweight individuals, the heart has to pump harder to circulate more blood throughout the body. The extra flow of blood puts strain on the arteries, which causes blood pressure to rise. Maintaining a healthy weight, or losing a few kilos, can help bring blood pressure under control.

Tip 3 - Follow the DASH diet

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a healthy eating pattern that focuses on the intake of foods that are low in sodium but higher in potassium and calcium, to lower blood pressure. Foods included in DASH include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy.

Tip 4 - Quit smoking

Smoking causes inflammation and damages the walls of the blood vessels. It narrows and hardens the arteries by accelerating the buildup of plaque in them. The hardening of arteries results in high blood pressure. Quitting smoking is good for the lungs and overall health too.

Tip 5 - Limit intake of alcohol

Alcohol can increase blood pressure, even in healthy individuals. It contains calories that may contribute to weight gain, a risk factor for hypertension. Alcohol can also interfere with the effectiveness of hypertension medications. Both women and men must limit intake to an occasional social drink.

Tip 6 - Manage stress

Chronic stress is a major risk factor for hypertension. Stress causes a surge in hormone levels that raise the blood pressure by increasing the heartbeat and narrowing the blood vessels. Stress can be reduced by coping techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga and listening to music.

Tip 7 - Monitor blood pressure at home

Regular monitoring can keep a check on blood pressure levels, ensure your medications are working well, and help alert you of potential complications. Be sure to keep track of your blood pressure readings in a journal or mobile app, and discuss it with your doctor.

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