High blood pressure or hypertension is spreading like an epidemic all over the world. The main reason behind the spreading of this ailment is an unhealthy lifestyle which is full of stress and tension. In order to understand how to deal with and manage high blood pressure it is necessary to understand what exactly the ailment is.
Blood pressure is essentially a measurement of the force with which the blood pushes against the walls of the blood vessels. The blood is thus pumped into the arteries which carry it to different parts of the body. When this pressure or force increases beyond a certain limit it is called high blood pressure and it is dangerous because the heart has to work harder to pump the blood to the body and in the long run causes thickening of the arteries known as arteriosclerosis, stroke, kidney ailments and in some cases heart failure.
What is normal blood pressure?
There is a top reading called systolic and a bottom reading called diastolic in the measurement of blood pressure.
- Normal blood pressure range is less than 120 systolic and 80 diastolic.
- Pre high blood range is 120 – 139 systolic and 80 – 89 diastolic.
- Stage 1 high blood pressure is 140 -159 systolic and 90 – 99 diastolic.
- Stage 2 high blood pressure is 160 and above systolic and 100 and above diastolic
In people of age 60 and above high blood pressure is defined as 150 and above systolic and 90 and above diastolic
Causes of High Blood Pressure
While the exact causes of high blood pressure are unknown, some factors are thought to play an important part in contributing to it:
- Extra weight or obesity
- Lack of physical activity
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Too much salt intake
- Old age
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Adrenal and thyroid disorders
- Chronic kidney ailments
- Sleep apnea
How to Prevent High Blood Pressure?
You can prevent high blood pressure by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight – Obesity increases the risk of developing high blood pressure six times than people who have desirable weight. Even small amounts of weight loss can go a long way in preventing high blood pressure.
- Getting regular exercise – It has been proven that people who are physically active are less likely to develop high blood pressure, compared to people who lead a sedentary life. You don’t have to indulge in strenuous work outs to maintain an ideal blood pressure because even light activities done regularly can help.
- Reduce intake of salt – Reducing your salt intake will help a lot in preventing your blood pressure from rising. Nowadays it is possible to get low sodium salt which is advisable for hypertension patients.
- Avoiding alcohol or drinking in moderation – Make sure that you don’t drink more than two drinks of alcohol a day if you want to maintain your blood pressure. While this is applicable for men, women should limit their alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink per day.
- Reduce the amount of stress – Stress is one of the main causes of high blood pressure and in order to maintain your blood pressure at the normal level, you should regularly indulge in stress busting activities like yoga, meditation, hypnosis and others.
There are some nutrients as well which help in preventing high blood pressure.
- Potassium – People who consume potassium rich foods are at a lower risk for high blood pressure. However, you should consult your doctor before taking a potassium supplement because a regular diet already has the right amount. Dairy foods and fish are a good source of potassium along with some fruits and vegetables.
- Calcium – In places of the world where calcium consumption is low there is a larger occurrence of high blood pressure. The recommended amount of calcium for adults of 19 – 50 years old is 1000 milligrams per day and 1200 milligram for people over 50 years along with pregnant and breast feeding women. Dairy products like low fat milk, cheese and yogurt are rich in calcium.
- Garlic – There is some research performed on the effect of garlic on high blood pressure and it has been found that garlic indeed helps in lowering the blood pressure. It is also useful in controlling cholesterol and reducing the risk of some cancers.
- Fish oils – omega 3 fatty acid is present in high amount in the oil obtained from fatty fish like mackerel and salmon. However, it is advisable to eat fish cooked in a healthy manner rather than taking fish oil capsules.