In recent times hypertension or high blood pressure has assumed catastrophic heights and there are two dominant factors largely held responsible for this; first is the fact that hypertension displays little or no symptoms and second, is out erratic lifestyle. However, we just cannot overlook the statistics that says, high blood pressure is the leading cause of killers like heart attack and stroke, as well as kidney failure, cognitive depreciation and aneurysms.
A research conducted in American Heart Association highlights the fact that almost twenty eight percent Americans are victims of high blood pressure and yet oblivious about it. There are medicines galore for hypertension that help to lower the blood pressure. However, long term usage of these medicines displays certain side effects like leg cramps, dizziness and insomnia. Fortunately the good news is, a healthy lifestyle can enhance the chances of keeping the blood pressure under control. In fact, making a drastic lifestyle change in the form of natural remedies might actually help in avoiding, delaying or reducing the need for medication in the long run.
1. Reduce Weight:
Blood pressure and weight gain are interrelated. In fact, with every pound gained the blood pressure increases accordingly. Breathing issues associated with weight gain like sleep apnea doubles the chances of raising your blood pressure. Therefore, the first lifestyle change that needs to be applied seriously is to lose weight. In fact blood pressure can be easily reduced by losing just as little as ten pounds. Along with weight loss the other thing that needs to be emphasized is a bulging waistline. Extra pounds around the waist is a sure shot way to enter the hypertension bracket. Generally, for men, waist measurement must not be greater than forty inches while for women anything beyond thirty five inches could prove to be dangerous.
2. Regular Exercise:
The best possible way to manage hypertension is to follow a routine that involves rigorous physical activity for a minimum of thirty minutes every day. In this context one must remember that consistency is the key because if you lose that, you are back to square one. Exercise is important because the heart absorbs oxygen more efficiently during the few minutes when you engage yourself in physical activity.
This in fact helps to cut short the extra effort that the heart makes to pump blood. A strict exercise regime brings down blood pressure by at least four to nine millimeters of mercury. The best part is if you are pre-hypertensive regular exercise will actually help stop converting it into fully fledged hypertension. Exercises considered best for reducing blood pressure are walking, climbing, cycling, jogging, swimming or dancing. Constantly challenging yourself by raising the bar in terms of speed and distance will deliver quick results.
3. Limit Salt Intake:
By limiting salt intake you can make a lot of difference to your blood pressure. Salt sensitive blood pressure is popular among certain groups of people like African Americans, the elderly or anybody above the age of fifty one and those with a family history of high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease.
However, doctors maintain that there is no clear cut evidence in this direction and therefore anybody diagnosed with high blood pressure must limit sodium intake. Fifteen hundred mg a day or even less is the margin that has been fixed by doctors to control high blood pressure. Scan food labels thoroughly for sodium quantity before purchasing. Processed foods are always high on sodium and therefore you need to go slow on them. Make sure to use salt free seasonings like herbs or spices to flavor food.
4. Curb Alcohol Intake:
Alcohol consumption has a mixed reaction on blood pressure. Too much alcohol can actually be detrimental for blood pressure. In fact high doses of alcohol causes blood pressure to rise by several points and also reduces the effectiveness of medicines prescribed for this purpose.
However, alcohol intake when curbed is potentially capable of lowering blood pressure by at least two to four mm Hg. A recent study conducted at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital concluded that a little alcohol every day is more helpful than no alcohol at all for reducing blood pressure. Light drinking that comprises more than one drink a day for women and men above the age of sixty five and more than two a day for men below sixty five is considered perfect.
5. Reduce Caffeine Consumption:
There is an interesting take on caffeine consumption and its effects on blood pressure. Blood pressure rises instantly by almost 10 mm Hg in those who seldom consume caffeine. For habitual coffee drinkers though, caffeine does not make any difference. However, this claim is debatable because a research conducted in Duke University Medical Center found out that blood pressure increased by at least four mm Hg in those who consumed nearly 500 mg of caffeinated drinks every day. In fact caffeine constricts blood vessels and exaggerates stress reactions which has a negative impact on blood pressure causing it to rise manifold.
6. Manage Stress:
It could be either chronic or occasional, stress by nature is harmful for blood pressure. The negative manifestations of stress like eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol or smoking are all detrimental for blood pressure. Managing stress involves taking some time off from your busy schedule to relax. Find out the reasons behind your stress – which could be either work, family, finances or illness. Stressors are easy to eliminate once you become aware of them. Putting in extra hours at work or doing overtime does benefit monetarily; but the possibility of you suffering from hypertension increases.
There are certain dos and don’ts that can be done to avoid stress. For instance, be patient and do not expect things to happen immediately. Learn not to overdo your expectations and always try to keep them within manageable limits. Devote at least fifteen to twenty minutes a day in doing some activity that is enjoyable and at the same time relaxes your mind and body. Doing deep breathing exercise while listening to soothing classical music everyday works as a balm for a stressed mind.