Know your number - For a proper understanding of blood pressure,
you must know where you stand. Two numbers are used to describe
blood pressure - the systolic pressure (the upper figure) measures
the force that blood exerts on the artery walls as the heart
contracts to pump out blood. The diastolic pressure (the lower
figure) is the measurement of force as the heart relaxes to allow
blood to flow into the heart. Normal blood pressure is less than
120mm of Hg systolic and less than 80mm of Hg diastolic. High blood
pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the pressure remains high
over time. You need to have your blood pressure measured at least
once per year.
Take your medicine - Adopting healthy lifestyle habits is an
effective first step in both preventing and controlling high blood
pressure. If lifestyle changes alone are not effective in keeping
your pressure under control, it may be necessary for you to take
blood pressure medications. Remember that blood pressure medications
are an ongoing treatment, not a cure, for hypertension. Never
discontinue your medication even if your blood pressure reaches a
Take time to chill out - Psychological or emotional stress is a
known contributor to heart disease and high blood pressure. Stress
brings about physiological changes and imbalances in hormones and
substances in the body, which are thought to play a significant role
in causing hypertension. In fact, nearly 70% of all high blood
pressure problems are related to emotional responses and difficult
or dangerous situations. Stress management programmes, including
relaxation and meditation, can help lower blood pressure in people
suffering from hypertension. But it alone cannot prevent the
development of high blood pressure.
Control cholesterol - Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in
fats which circulates in your blood stream. When you have too much
cholesterol in your blood, it results in excess build-up on the
walls of the arteries (blood vessels). This build-up is called
"atherosclerosis" or "hardening of the arteries". It narrows the
arteries and reduces the blood flow, leading to high blood pressure.
Eating in a heart-healthy way, being physically active, and losing
weight if you are overweight, can reduce high cholesterol levels.
Stay slim - Obesity leads to high blood pressure in several
possible ways. Firstly, when you are obese, your heart needs to pump
out more blood to supply the excess tissue. If you have hypertension
and are obese at the same time, you will experience greater
stiffness in your blood vessels throughout your body. Obesity too,
may also be a causative factor for kidneys to retain salt. If you
lose those excess pounds, you will not just lower your blood
pressure but you will also be able to eliminate other conditions
related to obesity.
Quit smoking - Two immediate effects of smoking on heart and
circulation are, an increase in your heartbeat rate and a sharp rise
in blood pressure. Nicotine, a chemical found in cigarettes
stimulates the central nervous system, causing the heart rate to
rise and blood vessels to constrict. This narrowing of blood vessels
causes the blood pressure to rise.
Stay active - Regular exercise such as walking, jogging,
skipping and biking reduces stress, tones muscles and controls
weight. Regular aerobic exercise can reduce the average systolic and
diastolic blood pressure by 10mmHg in individuals with mild
hypertension. When you're starting out, engage in 30 minutes of
moderate activity a day. Those 30 minutes need not be back-to-back.
Spend 5 minutes using the stairs in the office, take a brisk
10-minute walk at lunch and take a 15 minute walk home from the bus
or subway station.
Don't take too much sugar - An excessive sugar intake may result
in diabetes. Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the amount of
glucose (sugar) in the blood becomes too high because the body
cannot utilise it properly. High blood pressure occurs approximately
twice as frequently in patients with diabetes as in the general
population. Good control of your diabetes and early detection and
treatment of any possible complications are very important.
Go for regular prenatal check ups - Women with pre-existing, or
chronic, high blood pressure are more likely to have certain
complications during pregnancy than those with normal blood
pressure. However, some women develop high blood pressure while they
are pregnant (often called gestational hypertension). Typically, the
mother's blood pressure returns to normal after baby is born. If you
are thinking about having a baby and you have high blood pressure,
talk first to your doctor. Taking steps to control your blood
pressure before and during pregnancy, and getting regular prenatal
care will ensure your total well-being and your baby's health.
Does the pill increase blood pressure - For some women,
contraceptive pills have been known to raise blood pressure. This
occurs most frequently among women who are overweight, who have had
blood pressure problems in pregnancy, who have had kidney disease,
or who have a family history of blood pressure problems. This
pill-related hypertension is especially pronounced in women who
smoke. It is advised to get your blood pressure checked before
taking oral contraceptives and re-check it every 6 months or as your
Lower Homocysteine - Homocysteine is a protein, which is not a
normal dietary constituent but produced as a result of metabolism in
body. Homocysteine damages the inner lining of blood vessels and can
result in lesions that narrow blood vessels. High homocysteine level
increases the risk associated with smoking and hypertension. 2
vitamins - folate and vitamin B6 - found in certain fruits and
vegetables, however, can help lower blood homocysteine levels. Foods
high in folate include orange juice, eggs and dark-green, leafy
vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli. Foods high in vitamin B6
include bananas, chicken, milk, fish and wholegrains.
Cut down on salt - You are not born with a natural preference
for salty food. Try to teach yourself to re-appreciate the natural
flavor of food by gradually reducing the amount of salt and other
high-sodium seasoning, like soy sauce in your cooking. By
re-educating your palate, it will help to cut down your sodium
intake by at least 15%. If you have tots, it is best not to expose
them to excessively salty food. Babies in fact have such sensitive
taste buds, they do not need salt in their food at all.
Take lots of fruits and vegetables - A diet rich in fruits and
vegetables can lower your blood pressure significantly. Fruits are
Nature's best gift to men, they are high in potassium and low in
sodium. Make these colorful companions your daily choice - at least
2 servings a day is ideal.
Drink low fat milk - Studies have shown that a diet rich in
fruits, vegetables as well as low fat dairy products (also known as
DASH* diet) help bring down blood pressure significantly. A
low-sodium version of the DASH diet lowers blood pressure even
Spice up your meals - Expand your taste beyond saltiness in
food. Learn to use spices and herbs and to complement the natural
flavor of food. You would be surprised at how certain herbs can make
the simplest dishes taste exquisite.
Limit your caffeine - Whether caffeine in coffee and tea will
raise blood pressure is still a controversial issue. Studies show
that if you are a regular coffee drinker, it will have a minimal
effect on blood pressure. However, blood pressure may go up to
12mmHg after one cup of coffee for occasional drinkers. Keep your
coffee intake under 2 cups a day.
Use salt substitutes - The main ingredient of salt substitutes
is a potassium chloride. These salt substitutes contain very little
sodium. They can be used for most individual except those who have
kidney disease. Check with your doctor before choosing a salt
Avoid alcohol - Avoid excessive alcohol. Limit alcohol to no
more than 2 drinks a day for men or one drink per day for women.
Read the labels - Stop and read the nutrition information on
food labels when you do grocery shopping. Compare the sodium content
of various food items before them in your basket. Go for those
labeled with "low sodium", "unsalted", "salt reduced", "no salt
Banish foods with excessive salt content - Potato crisps,
pickled vegetables, salted fish and most processed foods are high in
sodium. Limit your intake of these foods.