Everything we do, from our diet to our daily lifestyle, plays a massive role in determining whether our blood pressure will be normal or crazily high. Your blood pressure levels depend on the amount of blood your heart is pumping daily and how much resistance the blood flow meets in your veins or arteries. Your blood pressure becomes very high when your arteries become narrower.
High blood pressure or hypertension is popularly called the silent killer because it slowly builds up without any physical signs until the day it attacks! Having high blood pressure puts you at the front of the line for heart attacks and stroke if it’s not quickly taken care of.
According to the WHO, 46% of adults diagnosed with high blood pressure barely go for treatment.
Of course, in Africa, we always tend to wait for the fire to burn the entire mountain before we begin to run from it. But that shouldn’t be the case with high blood pressure because of how deadly it can be when it strikes.
This is why it is very necessary for you to check your blood pressure and see a doctor regularly.
We know you probably have questions about how your blood pressure is determined, so we have come up with answers. Your blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury and this is written as mmHg. Next time you see this abbreviation on your medical report, you’ll have a deeper understanding.
The measurement of mercury in millimeters involves two numbers, one on top of the other. The number at the top represents the pressure force exerted when your heart pushes blood to your arteries- your systolic blood pressure.
The number beneath represents your diastolic blood pressure- the pressure in your blood vessels at the moment when your heart is beating. If your blood pressure is higher than 120/80 mm Hg then you have high blood pressure. The good thing is you can work on reducing your blood pressure by making certain significant changes to your lifestyle. Let’s talk about those changes, shall we?
Diet has a significant influence on your health, and that’s why it is always emphasized. Simple diet changes will go a long way in helping to balance your blood pressure and better your health overall. What changes should you make to your diet?
Carbohydrates are great, but they tend to lead to weight gain, a sure ticket to high blood pressure when consumed in large portions. Reducing your sugar intake and cutting down refined carbohydrates can help you with weight loss and lower blood pressure. Many studies have shown that sugar intake increases blood pressure more than even salt. A particular study on protein intake carried out in 2014 found that people who ate more protein were 40% less likely to develop high blood pressure. Even though proteins are great, consuming them too much may have an adverse effect, especially for people with kidney disease. The best thing to do is consult a doctor to know the exact amount of protein you should be incorporating into your diet.
Alcohol is a natural blood pressure raiser! Even if you’re completely healthy, alcohol can raise your blood pressure significantly. For every 10 grams of alcohol you consume, your blood pressure gets raised by 1mm Hg. Alcohol should be consumed in moderation or stopped entirely if you’re trying to lower your blood pressure. Caffeine, which can be found in coffee and energy drinks, can temporarily raise your blood pressure. The effect is different in everyone, but it’s a sure that your blood pressure spikes when you consume caffeine. It’s best if you cut back on it.
Some supplements are lifesavers! They help you in more ways than one to stay healthy. To lower your blood pressure, supplements like Omega 3 acids also known as fish oil, Whey protein- pure protein gotten from milk and magnesium work wonders.
In Africa, herbs are a staple in our dishes and they have been used to treat medical conditions for ages past. There are some herbs in particular that have been proven to lower blood pressure. Some of which are;
You can add these herbs to your diet to see significant changes in your blood pressure. If you’re unsure about the herbs, consult a doctor to determine which one would be good for you.
Simple lifestyle changes will go a long way in helping you to maintain healthy blood pressure. Lifestyle changes like;
Doctors will always tell you to do more exercise because it is very good for your overall health. It doesn’t have to be rigorous to be effective. Simple aerobic, taking walks, short jogs and activities can help, as long as you do them regularly. Exercise drops your systolic blood pressure by 15.6mm Hg and your diastolic blood pressure by 10.7 mm Hg when you do it regularly.
Learn not to overwork yourself until you break down. Take short breaks to rest and rejuvenate, your body needs it. Work anxiety increases your blood pressure drastically so find time to rest regularly before throwing yourself into work again.
When you sleep, your blood pressure naturally drops; this is why sleep-deprived people usually have high blood pressure. You're at more risk of having high blood pressure if you don’t sleep regularly. Some of the things that can help you get a good night's rest are; a comfortable bed, exercising during the day, setting a regular sleep schedule, and sleeping less during the day. A study found that sleeping for less than 5 hours every day is linked to long-term high blood pressure risk.
Having elevated blood pressure to high blood pressure shouldn’t send you into panic mode Relax, follow these tips and you’ll start to see significant change. It's always a good idea to reach out to a doctor for further checkups and relevant prescriptions if necessary.
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