High blood pressure

November 12, 2012

High blood pressure

Because high blood pressure can occur and no symptoms are seen the only way to check is by having a blood pressure check. It’s a very simple check and most chemists as well as doctors and practice nurses can carry it out. There are even home checking kits available.

The importance of checking cannot be overstated because having high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. The test is simple and will take less than five minutes and if you do find that you have high blood pressure then the quicker you address the matter the better it will be for you.

How to have a healthy blood pressure

The good news is that maintaining a healthy blood pressure can be done by lifestyle changes in most cases, medication is not necessary. Doctor Mike Mead, who is a GP in Leicester explains, “There are lots of different ways you can have a significant impact on your blood pressure. Reducing your blood pressure can make a massive difference to your health. It can prevent you from having a stroke or heart attack. There are so many benefits to making sure your blood pressure stays at a reasonable level.”

If you have high blood pressure then the following tips aiming to give you a healthier lifestyle, and hence lower your blood pressure, could be a lifesaver for you.

Diet

Check what you eat, make sure that your diet is balanced and healthy. That means reducing your salt intake, eating less saturated fat and ensuring that you get your “5 A Day”. That’s the government recommended 5 portions of fruit or vegetables every day.

Try to eat less than 6g of salt daily. A good way to achieve this is to stop adding salt when cooking your food in addition to not taking salt on your food. You will have to become a smarter shopper too. You must read the labels on your favourite foodstuffs to find out how much salt and fat is present in them. Always choose the low fat and salt options and if the foodstuff is too high then you will have to give it a miss. Many common foods have added salt, check the labels on foods like bread, soup or breakfast cereals.

Many foods containing saturated fat are exceptionally high in fat, so even the low fat, reduced fat or lower fat options are still high in fat compared to other foods. Try to avoid these foods. This means that sausages, butter, lard, ghee, biscuits, cakes, pies, fatty meat, most dairy products, coconut oil and palm oil are all out. Bring in more lean meats, pulses and oily fish. Fruit and vegetables can be taken in any form, fresh, frozen, dried, as juices or tinned.

How you cook your food is also important, steamed, poached, boiled or grilled is good, fried or roast is bad.

Doctor Mead points out, “Many people know to avoid butter because it’s high in saturated fat, but if you have three biscuits with your morning coffee, you’re still getting saturated fat”.

Weight

If you are overweight you should try to trim down. Obesity and overweight are known factors to increase your blood pressure. By eating healthier and doing a bit of exercise weight loss should take place anyway.

Exercise

The recommended amount of mildly aerobic exercise everyone should do is at least 150 minutes a week. It is better for you to do something everyday rather than work too hard for one day a week. The aim is to remain active as much as possible. The exercise can be any activity that gets your heart rate up a bit and leaves you puffing slightly. Good exercises are walking, dancing, cycling or swimming. Start slowly and build up gently. If you overdo it then apart from being discouraging, you could damage your health. Talk to your doctor if you are not sure how much exercise is suitable for you.

Alcohol

Remain within recommended limits for alcohol consumption. This means that if you are a man you should not drink more than 2 pints of lager a day. That’s no more than 3 to 4 units according to the U.K. government’s figures. Women should drink less, two 125 ml glasses of wine will take a woman to her daily limit. That’s 2 to 3 units a day.

Drinking to excess is known to increase your risk of heart disease, some types of cancer and can increase blood pressure.

Smoking

Smoking increases the risk of heart disease. Reducing this risk when you have high blood pressure is vital.

Other options

Even after following all this good advice some people’s blood pressure will not have dropped to normal levels. For this small minority of people medication will be required. Your doctor will advise you.

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