Often over-looked, blood pressure is something that many of us forget exists. More often than not, there are no signs of high blood pressure until it reaches a critical, sometimes fatal, point. Your blood pressure is significant because it’s often the first sign that there’s something wrong. How many times have you gone to the medical centre and had your blood pressure taken? Probably more than you first thought. Blood pressure is a window to the body, signaling if everything’s okay, and on the flip side, highlighting if there’s a problem. The ideal blood pressure for people wishing to have good health is below 120 over 80 (120/80), so ideally, every adult in the world would be there or thereabouts. However there are around 70 million American adults (29%) that have high blood pressure – and possibly many more who aren’t aware of it.
What effect does high blood pressure have on the body?
High blood pressure can lead to a range of serious health problems further down the line. Putting extra strain on your arteries and on your heart, over time, this strain can cause the arteries to become thicker and less flexible, or to become weaker. If your arteries become thicker and less flexible, they will become narrower, making them more likely to become clogged. And if an artery becomes completely clogged (known as a clot), this can lead to a heart attack, a stroke, kidney disease or dementia. More rarely, if an artery has become weakened, the extra strain may eventually lead to the artery bursting, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke.
What can be done?
The good news is there are many ways in which you can lower your blood pressure in order to put less strain on your arteries and heart. Making healthy lifestyle changes can significantly help to reduce your blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart attacks. Making just small lifestyle changes can help lower your blood pressure and increase your overall health.
Reduce your salt intake
Although a little salt in the diet is good for the human body, too much salt can raise blood pressure. So by cutting down on it, some people with high blood pressure have even been able to avoid blood pressure medicines altogether. Make sure to keep an eye on food labels, as most of the salt we eat is not what we add to food, but is in prepared foods such as bread, breakfast cereals and ready meals.
Eat more fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables help to lower blood pressure, thanks to their body-loving nutrients and vitamins. Adults should eat at least five portions (each portion is classed as 80g) of fruit and vegetables every day in order to maintain optimal health.
Keep to a healthy weight
Being overweight significantly increases the risk of high blood pressure and other heart problems. Losing just a little bit of weight can help decrease your risk of high blood pressure and other, related problems caused by high blood pressure.
Drink less alcohol
Continually drinking excess alcohol will significantly raise your blood pressure over time. The current recommended limits are 1-2 glasses a day, but millions of people all over the world drink far more. Heightening their risk of high blood pressure – not to mention a multitude of other health problems.
Being moderately active for 30 minutes, five times a week can help keep your heart healthy, and consequently, lower your risk of high blood pressure. Undertaking an activity you like, such as tennis or basketball will help keep you motivated to continue your fitness regime. Low impact sports, such as yoga and Pilates are the perfect starting point, increasing your strength and getting you used to moving around if you’re currently quite sedentary.
Monitor your blood pressure yourself
As blood pressure is not something we can physically see, it’s often extremely hard to tell if we have it without going to the doctor. Portable blood pressure monitors, such as those made by truMedic, are ideal for those who think they might be at risk, or those who just want to keep an eye on their blood pressure. Lightweight and easy to store, they make keeping track of blood pressure on the go simple and easy, allowing you to make potentially life-saving changes quickly.
And don’t forget, you don't have to wait until you have high blood pressure to make healthy changes. The more you can reduce your blood pressure, the lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke will be.