Hypertension also known as high or raised blood pressure is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised blood pressure. Hypertension is fast becoming a global public health concern.
Globally cardiovascular disease accounts for approximately 17 million deaths a year; Of these, complications of hypertension account for 9.4 million deaths worldwide every year . Hypertension is responsible for at least 45% of deaths due to ischemic heart disease and 51% of deaths due to stroke.
The causes of hypertension ranges from genetic causes, chronic medical disorders such as diabetes, chronic kidney diseases etc and psychological stress. It can be treated without drugs and this involves mainly dietary and lifestyle changes.
This article will focus on non-drug ways to manage hypertension with specific details.
World Health Organisation defines hypertension as a systolic blood pressure persistently equal to or above 140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure equal to or above 90 mm Hg. Therefore, a single blood pressure value 140/90mmHg does not mean an individual is hypertensive. Blood pressure values fluctuate intermittently depending on an individual’s activity and stress levels.
Hence, It is highly recommended to rest for 5-10 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. This gives the doctor your steady state value and it is this steady state value that can damage end organs if it is consistently high.
The first line of treatment for hypertension is non-pharmacological approach which will discussed in details below.
LOSE YOUR WEIGHT
Blood pressure and weight gain are tightly correlated. It has been scientifically proven that your blood pressure rises as your weight increases.This is more significant in individuals with abdominal obesity i.e abnormal abdominal girth due to accumulation of fatty tissues in the abdomen.This is common in individuals who are chronic alcoholics. Generally, you should aim to lose weight using a strategic weight loss plan. Your blood pressure is expected to drop by approximately 1mmHg for every kilogram of weight lost. Weight loss can be achieved by consistent exercises and eating the right foods.
Engaging in daily exercises will gradually reduce your blood pressure over time.It is recommended to exercise 20-30 minutes per day in aerobic exercises such as jogging and swimming. Exercising regularly helps in the breakdown of fatty deposits in the blood vessels and tissue spaces. This effect of exercise can only be derived from consistent exercises. It is the clogging of blood vessels by fats that contributes to the elevation of blood pressure.
It has been discovered that the type of diet consumed by an individual ultimately impacts blood pressure control. The dietary plan recommended for hypertensive persons is called DIETARY APPROACHES TO STOP HYPERTENSION (D.A.S.H) diet. DASH diet simply entails the consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat products. Consumers can ascertain they eat right by reading food labels of what they eat to ensure that the right amount of nutrients are being consumed daily. For instance, consumption of potassium rich fruits like citrus fruits will help to reduce blood pressure by antagonizing the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Furthermore, daily sodium intake should not exceed 2.3 grams per day. A restrictive sodium diet can be attained eating less processed foods and reducing the spices used to cook one’s meals.
Additionally, you should eat less trans/saturated fats found in canned foods and butter in order to reduce the degree of inflammation in blood vessels which predisposes you to hypertension. Some examples of specific foods which fits into a DASH diet include consumption of meals containing spinach, tomato, garlic,
An individual’s habit can negatively affect one’s health especially when it has been done for a protracted period of time. The commonest habit which can affect blood pressure control in the long term is smoking of cigarettes and excessive alcohol intake. Persons who have been discovered to have hypertension are urged to stop engaging in these habits. The active ingredients in these psychoactive substances can cause narrowing of blood vessels thereby increasing the total vascular peripheral resistance. Therefore, the blood pressure rises involuntarily to overcome this vascular resistance.
We are often bombarded with lots of activities as we go about our daily routines and this can trigger transient elevated blood pressure. These stressors can come from family, work or business. If these stressful events are not optimally managed, it causes chronic stress and frank hypertension.
One way of managing work stress is to prioritise activities and set daily goals. This enables the individuals to maintain focus and not get overwhelmed by non-essential things. Also, the act of delegating duties to team members will help to reduce the pressure on work managers who are expected to achieve set targets.
In addition, taking time off work in form of a leave can also help to relieve work stress. Family stress can be managed by seeking support from relatives and communicating clearly with family members.
Generally, deep breathing exercises such as yoga or meditation can serve as techniques to keep us relaxed during stressful occasions to keep one calm.
Finally, blood pressure should be properly monitored using