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Managing your Hypertension in 5 Easy Steps

Hypertension is when blood moves through your arteries at a higher pressure than the expected normal pressure. Uncontrolled hypertension puts any individual at a higher cardiac risk being more prone to heart failure, stroke and kidney failure. This long-standing hypertension can be due to primary hypertension where the exact cause is difficult to understand, but mostly related to environment factors, lifestyle and how an individual’s body changes with age. Secondary hypertension on the other hand is caused by pre-existing renal, thyroid problems or due to sleep apnea and even the use of certain medications.

Thus, here are some practical and useful tips to manage your hypertension at home:

1) Get Active: Being dormant does not help. Regular activity each day is important. Spending half an hour on exercise can help in controlling your weight. Obesity is a known risk factor for cardiac disease and hypertension. Being active through exercise is helpful to control your blood pressure. Some of the activities which can be done include walking, cycling, swimming and dancing. A brisk walk around the park during the evening is a great way to stay active (Pescatello et al, 2004).

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity and strength training either alone or in combination are recommended for people with high blood pressure. For good results, it is good to allow at least 90-150 mins/week on being active. It is preferred to be active on all days of the week.

One should start simple, sit less and move more. Do simple activities like walking the dog, taking the stairs and finding more opportunities to move around. It will be good to talk with your doctor and ask the health care provider on safety considerations before increasing physical activity. Aerobic activity increases the heart rate and breathing rate. This helps to improve the stamina and heart health. Some of the other activities include moderate-intensity strength training, like weightlifting or resistance bands, which can improve blood pressure, to enhance overall health.

2) Don’t smoke: Smoking is harmful for your heart. The nicotine in cigarette smoke can cause the blood vessels to temporarily increase the blood pressure making it likely to form dangerous blood clots. The content in the cigarette smoke causes the arteries to harden and narrow down, making the formation of clots. This can ultimately lead to a stroke or a heart attack (Dikalov, et al 2019). It’s not only about being a primary smoker, but one should also avoid exposure to passive smoking. If you are a person who has an addiction for smoking, then talk to your doctor on ways to cut down on smoking.

If you want to quit smoking, then here are some things you can follow:

• Pick a date to stop smoking and let your doctor know about it

• Make a note on why you want to quit and read it daily

• Write notes on what triggers you to smoke and what the situations are

• Make notes of the activities one can do instead of smoking and save it on your phone.

• Inquire about patches and nicotine gum

• Focus on joining a focus group with people who have quit smoking

• Keep your pockets free from cigarettes, matches and a lighter

• Avoid passive smoking

• Think how much healthy you will be without smoking

• If you feel like smoking, then take a deep breath. Hold it for a moment and then slowly exhale. Once you do it a few times, then the urge to smoke can pass.

• Instead of a cigarette break, take a walk or read a book.

• Limit on caffeine and alcohol which can trigger smoking.

• When you crave cigarettes, eat low-calorie food like celery sticks or chew sugar-free gum

• Get support from others to kick the habit.

• Speak to the doctor for prescription nicotine replacement products if needed.

3)Limit Alcohol: One should not drink more than 1 to 2 drinks in a day. One drink is generally 355 ml of beer. One has to keep in mind that alcohol is high in calories and this can contribute to unwanted weight gain. This is a risk factor for high blood pressure. In addition, alcohol can interact with blood pressure medications affecting the level of medication in the body and increasing the side effects (Puddey et al, 2019).

In order to limit on the alcohol use here are a few steps one should follow:

• Set yourself a drink limit and count on the drinks one take: Cut down on any extra drinks which you intend to take. NHMRC recommends that you do not take more than 10 standard drinks in a week.

• Try to few alcohol-free days each week: Having a few days each week without alcohol will help you to start quiting on this habit.

• Swap to low or no alcohol alternatives: This is a great way to reduce an individual’s drinking. There are many brands of low or now alcohol beverages in the market.

• Keep up the water and food intake: Reaching out for water and non-alcoholic alternatives is ideal.

4)Reduce Sodium: Ideally try to stay under 1500 mg of sodium a day. The aim should be at least 1000 mg a day. Table salt has nearly 40% sodium and thus a teaspoon of salt has 2300mg of sodium. Sodium sources can be present in many foods. Thus, to reduce the intake of sodium, ensure to reduce foods which have high amounts of preservatives added. Thus, processed foods must be reduced and one must reduce cheese, seafood, olives and certain legumes (Grillo, et al, 2019). One must use smart ways of cooking and shop smart.

Some common practices to follow are:

• Choosing lower sodium foods or low sodium versions of the favourites.

• Reading labels of pre-packaged foods.

• Eating more fruits and vegetables as snacks

• Selecting unsalted nuts and seeds

• Don’t add salt during cooking and removing the salt shaker from the table

• Following a DASH eating plan

5)Eating Healthy: One must eat lots of fruits and vegetables with low fat dairy and less saturated and total fat. Thus, one must include lots of fruits and vegetables in diet. Here is a take home recipe for individuals with hypertension.

Spring vegetable and herb frittata

Ingredients to serve 4

• 250g (8oz) asparagus, chopped into bite-sized pieces

• 250g (8oz) frozen or fresh peas

• 8 large eggs

• 2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk

• Bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced

• 2 tbsp chopped parsley

• 2 tbsp chopped chives

• 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

1. Cook the asparagus and peas in a saucepan of boiling water until the asparagus is just tender. Drain well.

2. Beat the eggs with the milk then stir in the cooked vegetables, spring onions and chopped herbs.

3. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Pour in the egg mixture and cook over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until the eggs are almost set.

4. Place the frying pan under a preheated grill and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the frittata is brown on top and completely set.

 Asparagus in recipe helps control the hypertension.

We hope that these 5 tips will be helpful for controlling your hypertension!

References

Dikalov, S., Itani, H., Richmond, B., Arslanbaeva, L., Vergeade, A., Rahman, S. J., … & Dikalova, A. (2019). Tobacco smoking induces cardiovascular mitochondrial oxidative stress, promotes endothelial dysfunction, and enhances hypertension. American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 316(3), H639-H646.

Grillo, A., Salvi, L., Coruzzi, P., Salvi, P., & Parati, G. (2019). Sodium intake and hypertension. Nutrients, 11(9), 1970.

Pescatello, L. S., Franklin, B. A., Fagard, R., Farquhar, W. B., Kelley, G. A., & Ray, C. A. (2004). Exercise and hypertension. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 36(3), 533-553.

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