Hello, Yoda here. Today, we’ll discuss one of the most prevalent conditions in the world. As of 2019, hypertension, or high blood pressure had affected around 26% of the world’s population. The number was estimated to grow up to a whopping 29% by 2025, and the pandemic-infused stress has only made it worse.
To tackle hypertension, we must understand the condition first.
So, what is hypertension?
Hypertension is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently higher pressure than optimum. This means that the blood in the arteries is flowing at a higher pressure than normal, and arteries are overclocking consistently.
It is commonly expressed as the ratio of Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP) to Diastolic Blood Pressure (DBP). Systolic blood pressure is the pressure that the blood exerts on the arterial walls when the heart contracts and diastolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted when the heart relaxes.
How much should your SBP/DBP read, exactly?
Optimally, your SBP should read less than or around 120 and DBP should be less than 80. Here’s a table that’ll help you understand numbers around hypertension better.
What are all the possible causes of high blood pressure?
To understand why someone’s blood pressure is high, we must first learn about the two types.
Primary or essential high blood pressure is the common type. It develops with old age, a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, stress, or an irregular/insufficient sleeping pattern.
Secondary blood pressure on the other hand is usually the result of a prevailing medical condition or a side effect of certain medicines. This fades gradually after treating the initial condition or as the medicines that cause hypertension are stopped.
How would one know if they have hypertension?
Here’s the tricky part – The only way to be sure if you have high blood pressure is to get it checked by a health professional. There are symptoms like the ones discussed below, but they don’t always show, and if you’re experiencing any of these, you must start taking immediate action.
Speaking about noticeable symptoms, you will experience early morning headaches, occasional nosebleeds, irregular heart rhythms, blurred vision, and a buzz in the ears.
More severe ones include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, and muscle tremors. Again, with hypertension, the symptoms are not regular and persistent, which makes it easy to miss. However, ignoring it can cause persistent pain in the chest – a condition called angina, heart attacks, heart failure, and irregular heartbeats. Hypertension left unchecked leads to sudden death, even. so it is important to notice any discomfort or symptom and get your blood pressure checked regularly.
Am I at risk?
One of the most common mistakes a lot of people make is assuming that they are free from the risk of being affected by hypertension because they are young. While it is true that people over 55 are more likely to be affected by it, age isn’t the only criterion here.
Your chances of having high blood pressure increase if you
- Are overweight
- Eat salty food or food rich in sodium
- Do not have an active lifestyle
- Consume alcohol a lot
- Have a family history of high blood pressure
How do I cope with high blood pressure?
The first thing to do is to periodically check your blood pressure levels. If recommended by your physician, do take your medicines every day. Having an active lifestyle definitely helps reduce the risk of hypertension, so do exercise regularly. Keep your body weight in check, and quit smoking. Limit your alcohol intake, and finally, maintain a good sleep cycle.
The last thing to understand when talking about hypertension is that diet plays a very important role in keeping your blood pressure levels low. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or the DASH eating plan is one effective meal plan that helps.
The DASH eating plan
The DASH eating habit helps keep your hypertension in check by limiting sodium intake. It encourages foods that are rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein. Here are a few food groups and foods recommended in the DASH eating plan.
There are a lot of other foods that are recommended as part of the DASH eating plan. The focus here is to simply limit your salt/sodium intake and load up on a wholesome, nutritious meal that’ll help regulate your blood pressure. According to the DASH diet, the total sodium intake should not be more than 2,300 mg per day.
Remember to relax
Hypertension, though if left unchecked could become a lot more serious, is not a threatening illness if you follow a decent protocol in diet and lifestyle. Kick back, relax, take the right nutrients, keep fit and move along. Yoda’s here to help you loosen it up.