Hypertension or high blood pressure is a shockingly common disorder and can strike anyone at any stage of their lives. Our current unhealthy lifestyle is not conducive to maintaining a healthy blood pressure level. Once it takes root in your body, hypertension opens up the doors to a wide range of ailments.
Why should you be scared of hypertension?
High blood pressure – irrespective of its type – can be your heart’s worst enemy. High pressure allows plaque to build up along the walls of those blood vessels that carry blood to your heart. The walls thicken up and lose their elasticity. This means blood flow to your heart is reduced and as the blood has to push its way through a narrowed passage, it increases the pressure on your arteries which raises your blood pressure even more. Eventually, this vicious cycle severely cuts off the blood supply that your heart needs to carry out its functions. And those muscles of the heart that get parched slowly begin to die. This is how you get a heart attack. High blood pressure can also give you a cardiac arrest.
What is the normal range of blood pressure?
Firstly, you have to realize that your blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day. And it also keeps changing with your age. Only your doctor will be able to tell you what should be your ideal blood pressure based on your health, medical history, weight, gender and other factors. However, there is a universal scale of blood pressure that you might be interested in learning to give you an idea as to whether your blood pressure is within bounds.
120/80 mmHg or anything slightly less is considered a healthy blood pressure reading. Up to a reading of 139/89 is a state of prehypertension. If your systolic pressure (the higher number) escalates to 140 or beyond and the diastolic pressure rises to 90 or above, then you definitely have high blood pressure.
How can you prevent high blood pressure?
Preventing high blood pressure starts with understanding what triggers it in the first place. If you are aware of the risk factors of hypertension, you can nip this disorder in the bud.
The causes of hypertension–
- If someone you are related to by blood has high blood pressure, chances are you will end up with it too
- Obesity or even being overweight facilitates the formation of plaque in your blood vessels which will continue to drag up your blood pressure
- Menopause makes a woman more prone to high blood pressure
- Not exercising and living an inactive life drastically increase your chances of getting high blood pressure
- Smoking shrinks your blood vessels and makes the passage of blood difficult
- Too much of alcohol and a diet that is high in saturated and trans fats are directly responsible for high blood pressure
- High levels of bad cholesterol or LDL cause hypertension
- Diabetes is another common cause of hypertension
- Sleep apnoea and mental stress too have been linked with high BP
So your plan to prevent high blood pressure should start with avoiding the risk factors.
Some factors such as family history or menopause are beyond your control. In such situations, it would be wise to regularly monitor your blood pressure. Often, prehypertension does not exhibit any symptoms and you may notice the signs when you have contracted full-fledged high blood pressure. But keeping regular tabs on your BP will help you avert that.
Since obesity and lack of exercise are the leading causes of hypertension, you should get in shape if you want to avoid high BP. Do 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercises like, jogging, swimming, brisk walking or running every day. They will help you shed the kilos and ward off hypertension. Exercise will also reduce your chances of getting diabetes which is another risk factor of hypertension. But if you do have diabetes, do not miss your insulin doses because studies have found that insulin injections can also prevent hypertension.
Give up smoking right away and if you are not a smoker then do not acquire the habit. Also, if you drink, then do it in moderation.
You have to be very particular about your diet. Avoid fatty and greasy foods like processed or junk foods or red meat. You can consult a dietician who will draw up a diet plan based on your needs. Remember to lower your salt intake. Salt retains water in your body and the more the water content the greater the likelihood of developing high blood pressure.
Stress is mostly unavoidable. But you can learn how to control it and not allow it to usher in hypertension. Just enrol in a yoga class or practise meditation and breathing exercises.
High blood pressure is dangerous and all around you, you will see people being diagnosed with it. But you can avoid that fate just by being cautious. A healthy lifestyle is crucial to healthy blood pressure levels.