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Your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke goes up tremendously if you’ve high blood pressure. Having HBP also makes you highly vulnerable to congestive heart failure or kidney failure. Leaving aside the congenital or heredity aspect, factors that are beyond your control, the manner in which you live your life has the maximum impact on your blood pressure level.
That is to say, leading an unhealthy, erratic, and undisciplined lifestyle is bound to elevate your blood pressure to abnormally high levels in the long run. And once your high blood pressure reading becomes consistent, there is always the possibility of your being incapacitated with a stroke or myocardial infarction (heart attack). HBP is a silent killer as the condition is mostly asymptomatic which means in most circumstances you won’t have any indications that you’re hypertensive (1).
However, you can take your HBP under your stride by introducing or bringing about marked lifestyle changes. In other words, if you resolve to lead a more disciplined life, have balanced meals, give up on junk foods, and refrain from smoking and drinking. Making healthy changes in your lifestyle are imperative for ushering in a reduction of blood pressure and doing away with the need to take medications.
Blood pressure is a chronic condition very much like diabetes that cannot be cured completely but you can always keep it under a tight leash if you lead a more organized lifestyle. Just as you’d have to take prescription drugs for bringing down your high blood pressure, regard the modifications you’d have to make as ‘prescription lifestyle’. That, in essence would imply that you’d accord them the same significance as you’d to hypertensive drugs which means you’d be really sincere in abiding by the changes (2).
By forsaking unhealthy habits and adopting a healthy daily routine, you can reap many benefits. For a start, you can stem the development or onset of HBP, improve the efficacy of medications, and delay or prevent the risk of kidney disease, stroke, heart attack, and heart disease. Nearly 20% of those with HBP are not even aware that they’ve it because the disorder is symptomless that doesn’t augur well for one’s health.
Perhaps the best to find out whether you’re are hypertensive or not is to pay a visit to a doctor or a healthcare professional who can determine the same using a sphygmomanometer or via an advanced blood pressure monitor.
Even if you’re not hypertensive and your blood pressure lies within the 120/80mmHg-139/89mmHg range, you should look forward to making positive changes in your lifestyle to prevent the incidence of HBP in the near future (3).
In case your BP is 140/90mmHg or more, you’ll have to take medications besides following a systematic life. Heed your physician’s advice in letter and spirit and take the prescribed dosage of medications regularly. Don’t miss a dose or abruptly discontinue medication without first consulting the doctor. Keeping a tab on your blood pressure is not something periodic but a lifelong matter. Bear in mind that monitoring your hypertension would be instrumental in reducing and playing down the risk of your suffering from peripheral artery disease, kidney failure or heart disease.
Your healthcare provider or specialist will chalk out a treatment or therapeutic plan based on the analysis or examination of your blood pressure. The treatment plan or procedure might incorporate lifestyle modifications that you’ll have to stick to for a lifetime. At the same time, the healthcare professional will prescribe medicines that you may have to continue taking for a long term or even permanently in order to keep your HBP under control (4).
Your healthcare provider or medical practitioner will work in close co-operation with you depending on whether you’ve been found to have secondary or primary blood pressure. You suffer from primary blood pressure when your BP rises abnormally because of your erratic or uncontrolled lifestyle. On the other hand, if your blood pressure is found to be anomalously high due to some other ailment or medical condition, then it is known as secondary hypertension.
For the treatment of primary blood pressure, the healthcare provider might prescribe hypertensive medicines like diuretics, ACE Inhibitors or beta-blockers. The treatment will go on till your blood pressure does not come down to controllable levels. As for secondary HBP, the medical professional will try to deal with and mitigate the condition that is causing a spike of your blood pressure. Towards this end, he might replace the medication that he feels might be affecting your BP with a new one.
If your HBP continues or is initially diagnosed as primary, then the therapeutic program might involve the integration of lifestyle alterations. Even if lifestyle adjustments do not have an appreciable impact on your blood pressure, then the doctor might consider revising the blood pressure management plan. The revision program or scheme might see him introducing medicines for dealing with your HBP (5).
In case, your physician starts you up on medication as an integral component of the treatment scheme, apart from recommending bringing about lifestyle changes, then you should do your best to stick to both. You should realize that abiding by the restorative plan will go a long way in helping you to monitor as well as bring down your high blood pressure.
Many people develop high blood pressure that becomes resistant to medications. For these people, the medications that they’re taking for hypertension may not be proving to be effective or it could be that some other ailment or disease is causing a spurt in their blood pressure. In such a scenario, healthcare providers propose an alternative treatment program comprising a new set of medications along with minor or major modifications in daily routine (6).
So that you’ve total control over your HBP, take medications as prescribed by the physician and be cautious about not missing any dosage. At the same time, see to it that you lead a lifestyle that does not affect your health adversely and also have balanced meals at proper timings so that medicines have their desired effect.
Espousing healthy lifestyle practices will make it easier and smoother for you to monitor and keep your blood pressure within controllable levels. Lifestyle habits that you should be incorporating in your daily life would include eating nutritious and wholesome meals in moderate portions, remaining physically active, supervising weight, cutting down on alcohol consumption, and tackling stress. In order to successfully integrate lifestyle changes in your life, try adopting one habit initially (7).
Only after you think that you’ve been able to effectively assimilate this habit into your everyday schedule should you attempt to introduce the next change. Trying to slot in the proposed changes all at once might overwhelm you resulting in utter chaos and mismanagement.
All doctors and physicians recommend following a workout program in a consistent manner for the sake of keeping oneself fit and trim as well as for bringing down HBP to normal levels. You can consult your physician who may help you out with chalking a weekly physical activity regimen. Whatever be the minutiae of the exercising schedule, you should see to it that you get yourself at least, 2 and a half hours of moderate to intense physical activity every week (8).
Alternatively, you can also aim at 1 and a half hours of intense or vigorous physical exertion on a weekly basis. Physical activities will basically involve taking a long morning or evening walks, cycling, swimming, and jogging and so on. Additionally, you can perform a series of cardiovascular and/or strength building exercises in your home or gym like running on the treadmill, lifting weights, sit-ups, and pushups etc.
What goes in your mouth and ultimately into your stomach has a considerable impact on your blood pressure reading. Eating more fruits and vegetables, curbing down the intake of table salt, staying away from sugary and processed foods, and cutting down consumption of red meats are some healthy consumption practices you can take up. The idea is to concentrate consuming foods and food items that are conducive for your heart as this organ plays a pivotal role in controlling blood pressure.
You should prepare and select diets that contain a negligible amount of sodium. Seasonings and ingredients that you’ll use to cook dishes should have a low sodium content.
Numerically speaking, your sodium intake per day should not in any case, exceed 23g.
Consume food items that’ll be beneficial for your heart as well as for your entire body including but not limited to whole grains, apples, prunes, oranges, bananas, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas (7).
Have dairy products that are fat-free or have an extremely low-fat content. Eat fishes that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like trout, salmon, tuna, tilapia, and trout nothing less than 3-4 times in a week. At the same time, you should avoid consuming red meats like beef and mutton, foods high in sugar and saturated fats, and sweetened beverages. Also, refrain from cooking food in coconut or palm oil and don’t buy packaged foods that have been prepared in these oils.
Irrespective of the state of your health, alcohol intake should be strictly regulated as unbridled consumption can lead to your LDL
(bad) cholesterol, triglyceride and blood pressure levels shooting up. High alcohol content in your blood will cause more water to be used up for breaking it down that’ll leave you dehydrated. It also means that less water will be available for other biological functions like the breakdown of fats for supplying you with required amount of energy (6).
This’ll lead to deposition of fat around your belly as well as around the arterial walls leading to arteriosclerosis and it eventually causing blood pressure to rise abnormally. Men and women should not consume more than two and one drink respectively.
One round of drink comprises 1 and a half ounce of liquor, 5 ounces of wine, and 12 ounces of beer.
Overweight and obese persons tend to be more hypertensive than individuals with normal weight. Corpulent individuals have excessive fatty deposit mainly around their bellies, thighs, and also in the blood vessels of the arteries that carry blood away from the heart. Abundant fat deposition in the arteries means the passages are narrower which prevents blood from flowing smoothly which causes more exertion on the heart.
This forces the heart muscles to contract and expand more vigorously in order to pump out blood through the arteries leading to high blood pressure. So, it goes without saying that maintaining a well-toned body is essential for the regulation of blood pressure as well as for minimizing the risk for other lifestyle disorders and diseases (4).
Clinical research and trials have evidenced that losing even 5% of your overall body weight can have a positive impact on your wellbeing. Therefore, try to lose weight in an integrated and phased manner so that you’re able to lose 3-5% of your body weight in 3-4 months. A combination of lifestyle practices including going for regular exercises, consuming healthy diets, and sleeping soundly for eight hours will help you to burn fat slowly and gradually.
Gradual weight loss helps enhance HDL cholesterol, lower LDL cholesterol, and help scale down your high blood pressure. The BMI or body mass index scale is an excellent yardstick for gauging whether you’re overweight or obese. The scale actually indexes or gauges your body mass against your height.
If your BMI number is within the 18.5-24.9 range, your weight is normal; anything beyond 25 and within 29.9 is regarded as overweight and if your BMI number is 30 and above, you’re considered obese.
So, with respect to maintaining a healthy body mass, you should target for a BMI fewer than 25. Determining the circumference of your waist helps you set body weight reduction goals for the sake of averting or thwarting potential health risks. You should keep one fact in mind that if the majority of fat buildup is around the belly or abdomen, then you’ll be more vulnerable to suffering from type II diabetes or heart disease. For men, the threshold waistline is 40 inches and for women, it is 35 inches. Therefore, if your waistline circumference is more than the figures mentioned above, you should go all out to melt the accumulated fat and trim your waist.
Taking medicines is an essential aspect of your treatment program and therefore, you should be mentally prepared for the same. You may also have to take medicines for a long-term or even a lifetime for managing your hypertension. Presently, different categories of medications are available for hypertension and they also function in distinctive manners upon your system that impinges on your blood pressure (9).
The different categories of hypertensive medications include diuretics, ACE (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme) Inhibitors, Angiotensin Receptor Blockers, Beta-Blockers, Alpha-Beta Blockers, CCBs (calcium channel blockers), Central Acting Agents, and Vasodilators. These medications are mainly prescribed by doctors and healthcare experts as the first line of treatment.
If taking these medicines do not reduce blood pressure to controllable levels, then medical practitioners recommend the 2nd line of drugs like Renin Inhibitors, Peripheral Adrenergic Inhibitors, and Alpha 2 Receptor Agonist (9).
As far as monitoring or regulating your HBP is concerned, it is a lifestyle disorder that you’d need to keep tabs on consistently throughout your lifetime. Adopting and holding on to lifestyle changes like limiting alcohol intake, giving up smoking, visiting your doctor periodically, and eating healthy can be a tall order. Therefore, you’d need the support of your near and dear ones to stay motivated enough so that you don’t give up easily. Furthermore, the fact that a high blood pressure level can act as a trigger for numerous other health issues should also keep you on your guard.