If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) you will need to start thinking more carefully about your health – especially as it can be a silent killer.
A lot of the time, symptoms of high blood pressure go unnoticed, and according to the British Heart Foundation, as many as five million Britons could be undiagnosed.
High blood pressure can quietly damage your body for years before symptoms develop, and the consequences could mean a number of life-threatening complications – including heart disease.
So in order to balance your blood pressure and keep your heart as healthy as possible, follow these simple life-changing steps:
Know your risk
The causes of high blood pressure are unclear, but there are various risk factors that have been identified. These include:
- adults over the age of 65
- being overweight or obese
- high consumption of alcohol
- high consumption of caffeine
- high consumption of salt
- a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables
- lack of exercise
- those of African or Caribbean descent
- those with family members who have high blood pressure.
Knowing these risks is an important step to helping you make lifestyle changes that will decrease the likelihood of developing high blood pressure – or will help you to better manage it.
Extensive research suggests there is a strong link between weight and high blood pressure. If you are overweight and want to embark on a weight-loss programme, consult your GP for advice. They will typically advise a combination of healthy diet and exercise.
Reduce your salt intake
A healthy diet is key to stabilising your blood pressure. Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, and devoid of unprocessed goods will provide the body with essential minerals and vitamins to help it function smoothly. Reducing salt intake is particularly important as sodium raises blood pressure. Ensure you eat no more than 6g a day.
Cut back on alcohol and cigarettes
Binge drinking is extremely dangerous for those with high blood pressure, but heavy smoking can also have negative effects. This is because they harden arteries and blood vessels, which could lead to heart disease. Keep alcohol consumption to special occasions only and stopping smoking altogether is strongly advised.
Take time to relax
Often high blood pressure can be exacerbated by stress, so it is important for sufferers to take time to relax and find their inner calm. Alternative treatments and complementary therapy such as yoga, massage, acupressure and reflexology are well-known for their stress reducing and relaxation benefits. For more information on a wide range of treatments available, check out our therapy topics page.
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