High blood pressure is a potential killer if left untreated. Reduce your risk of developing the condition with these lifestyle and dietary tips.
Blood pressure that’s high over a long time is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. A blood pressure reading under 120/80mmHg is considered optimal, while readings over 120/80mmHg and up to 139/89mmHg are in the normal to high-normal range. In 2017, an American study published in the Journal of Hypertension found that 50 per cent of participants suffered from high blood pressure, with most of them unaware of their condition or unwilling to address and manage their high blood pressure.
If left untreated, high blood pressure (hypertension) damages the blood vessels and puts extra strain on the heart, the resulting overwork damaging the heart muscle. High blood pressure can also wreak havoc on the kidneys and eyes and, if left untreated, can lead to kidney failure and blindness.
Risk factors can include the following:
High blood pressure often runs in families, so if your parents and grandparents have high blood pressure your own risk is significantly increased.
Risk increases with age.
Drinking too much alcohol. Healthy men and women should drink no more than two standard drinks per day.
If your silhouette resembles an apple (you have extra padding around your middle) high blood pressure becomes much more likely.
The Framingham Heart Study estimates that 78% of cases of male high blood pressure and 65% of cases of female high blood pressure are the direct result of obesity.
Dietary and lifestyle factors are key determinants of your risk. The typical profile of a high blood pressure ‘time bomb’ is someone who is overweight (especially around the abdomen), sedentary, unfit, stressed, running on adrenalin and consuming a diet high in kilojoules, saturated fats, salt and refined carbohydrates.
Try These Quick Tips for Healthy Blood Pressure
• Drop the kilos. Achieve and maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). Losing as little as one kilo of weight starts to lower blood pressure.
• Get active. Regular aerobic activity is vital for weight management and will increase your sensitivity to the hormone insulin. Insensitivity to insulin (insulin resistance) is often a precursor to type 2 diabetes and is a major risk factor for developing high blood pressure. Try these six steps to a total body workout.
• Be good carb-conscious. Choosing the right dietary carbohydrates will help to keep the body’s cells sensitive to insulin. Insulin resistance is a major cause of fat build-up around the abdomen (apple body shape). Avoid simple, refined carbohydrates, such as white flour, processed foods with added sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates, such as wholemeal bread, porridge, muesli, brown rice, lentils, legumes, fruits and vegetables.