Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Managing Your Blood Pressure
Managing Your Blood Pressure High blood pressure is one of the most common, and also one of the most dangerous ailments. However, the good part is that like most diseases, it can be easily controlled. If you have high blood pressure, then you should take all the necessary precautions and actions required to manage it. This write up discusses high blood pressure and its risks and also goes on to elaborate how it can be managed and controlled. What Is Blood Pressure? The pressure exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries when the heart pumps blood through them is known as blood pressure. There are two kinds of blood pressure: Systolic: Pressure on the arterial walls when the heart beats to fill the arteries with blood that has to be carried to all the organs. Diastolic: Pressure on arterial walls when the heart is resting between beats. What Is High Blood Pressure? A normal, healthy individual should have a blood pressure reading of 120/80 (systolic/diastolic) mmHg. High blood pressure or hypertension is defined by a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or above. Blood pressure that falls between these ranges, which is 120-139/80-89 mmHg, is known as pre hypertension. Why Should High Blood Pressure Be Controlled? High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart disease. While almost 50% to 60% of heart failure cases occur due to hypertension or high blood pressure, it also leads to a number of other cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease, ventricular hypertrophy, myocardial infarction (heart attack), angina, congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia. Apart from affecting the heart, high blood pressure can also damage the brain, kidneys and the eyes among other things. It is because of these dangers that blood pressure needs to be managed and controlled. What Are The Benefits Of Managing Blood Pressure? Managing your blood pressure will not only lead to a healthy heart, but can also save you from a number of other serious ailments. By making a few simple yet pertinent changes to your lifestyle, you can control your blood pressure, stay healthy and avoid a host of serious health related complications. How Can I Manage My Blood Pressure? Following the blood pressure management tips given below can make a positively huge difference to your health in the long term. Quit Smoking: Smoking damages the walls of the smaller arteries, leading to a hardening, which directly increases blood pressure. Giving up smoking brings about a reversal of smoking induced damage to the arteries, leading to controlled blood pressure and better heart health. Lose Weight: People who are overweight are 6 to 8 times more likely to get high blood pressure than those who have normal weight. Having a thick waist or a pot belly also increases the risk of high blood pressure. Losing weight can greatly help in managing blood pressure levels and keeping them normal. Shedding even 5% of body weight can lead to lower blood pressure levels. However, remember that it is always better to shed weight in a sustained manner at the rate of half to one kilogram per week instead of going on crash diets. Eat Healthy: Making a switch to healthier food options not just for the time period when you want to lose weight but for your whole life will lead to not just healthy blood pressure levels, but to sustained overall health. Reduce the intake of foods high in saturated and trans fats, sugar and salt in favour of eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils rich in MUFA and PUFA, and fibre rich cereals. Cut Back On Sodium Intake: Sodium in our diet comes mainly from salt in foods, and this should be limited to one teaspoon a day or less if you want to manage your blood pressure levels. This is not just because excess salt can damage the heart, but also because it directly leads to higher blood pressure levels. Exercise: Exercise makes the heart and blood vessels stronger, making them less prone to cardiovascular diseases. It also leads to loss of weight, which is a direct cause of high blood pressure. Another major cause of high blood pressure—stress—is also mitigated by the effects of exercise. Exercising daily for at least 30 minutes can lead to long term blood pressure control. Take Medications: In many cases, especially in states of pre hypertension or hypertension, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control blood pressure. These should be taken regularly and should not be discontinued except at the advice of your health care practitioner.