You may have come across the medical terms “hypertension” and “high blood pressure” used interchangeably. That is because they essentially mean the same thing. Hypertension/ high blood pressure is defined by the consistently high force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. This constant force irritates and damages the blood vessels leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Hypertension is a serious health that if left unmanaged, can lead to stroke, heart disease and other serious complications. Fortunately, there are various lifestyle changes and interventions that can help us to maintain healthy blood pressure levels!
In this blog post, we will explore effective strategies and practical tips on how to prevent or manage hypertension.
First, it is important to recognise the risk factors associated with the three types of hypertension.
Essential hypertension (Primary hypertension)
Over-consumption of alcohol
Pre-existing health conditions
Adrenal gland disease
Constriction of the aorta
Obstructive sleep apnea
Side effects of some medications (e.g. birth control pills and diet aids
Multiple pregnancy (e.g. twins, triples etc.)
Pre-existing hypertension before pregnancy
History of hypertension in previous pregnancies
Hypertension is often referred to as a “silent killer” and many people lead their lives undiagnosed because they remain asymptomatic until significant damage has been done to the heart and arteries.
However, if symptoms do occur, they can include dizziness, headaches, nosebleeds, chest pains, blurred vision, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting. It is important to note that these symptoms are not specific to hypertension as they are also present in other health conditions. Please refrain from self-diagnosing and seek medical advice from a doctor if you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
Singapore Heart Foundation advocates for people to start keeping their blood pressure in check from the age of 18. For individuals above 40 years old, they should have their blood pressure measured regularly.
If your blood pressure is within the normal range, you should measure it at least once every 2 years. However, if you have been diagnosed with hypertension, heart disease, diabetes or kidney disease, it is recommended that you measure your blood pressure levels at least once a week.
While it is unnerving to learn of the prevalence and severity of hypertension, the good news is that lifestyle changes can aid in lowering blood pressure and decrease the risk of associated health complications.
Here are some ways that can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure:
Control your weight to keep your BMI between 18-23
Adopt a low-fat diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins
Limit your cholesterol intake such as organ meats, shellfish, prawns, crabs, egg yolk and fish roe
Reduce salt intake by avoiding processed foods, fast food, and potato chips
Exercise for a minimum of 150 minutes a week
Limit alcohol intake to no more than 2 standard drinks per day
Manage your stress levels by practising meditation and deep breathing exercises.
Stay away from smoking
Get adequate sleep
Regularly check your blood pressure with the help of a healthcare professional or with a home blood pressure monitor
If lifestyle changes alone are not sufficient to control your blood pressure, you may be required to take medications. It is important to consult and follow up with a healthcare provider regularly to check on your progress.
Managing hypertension requires a personalised approach that involves the coupling of positive lifestyle changes and professional medical guidance. Remember, taking small steps towards a healthier lifestyle can lead to significant improvements in managing hypertension and promoting overall well-being.