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How to lower your blood pressure?

December 8, 2022

According to CDC, nearly half of adults in the United States (47%, or 116 million) have hypertension or are taking medication for hypertension. In 2020, more than 670,000 deaths in the United States had hypertension as a primary or contributing cause.

Unfortunately, many of us are still unaware of the dangers of hypertension. Very often it does not show noticeable symptoms, so in a large number of people it is discovered by chance during routine examinations, or worse, when it will already lead to serious health complications.

What is hypertension?

Blood pressure is expressed as two numbers - systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the higher number, given first. It expresses the pressure exerted on the arteries by the blood pushed through them by the contraction of the heart. Diastolic pressure shows the pressure exerted by the blood on the arteries between such contractions.

In 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association defined high hypertension as a blood pressure at or above 130/80 mmHg. Stage 2 hypertension is defined as a blood pressure at or above 140/90 mmHg.

Hypertension is a cardiovascular disease that results in blood pressure that is consistently above this established norm. Long-term hypertension without treatment and serious lifestyle changes can lead to serious heart disease, as well as other organs.

What causes hypertension?

There are many factors that contribute to elevated blood pressure. On the one hand, hypertension can be conditioned by our hereditary predisposition. Individuals whose families had a history of hypertension are in the risk group.

On the other hand, our risk of developing the disease is also influenced by our daily dietary or activity choices. An unhealthy diet including excessive salt intake, alcohol or tobacco abuse, and lack of physical activity, especially if we have a sedentary lifestyle, all contribute to the disease. Long-term stress can also contribute significantly to our risk of disease.

How to lower blood pressure and keep it under control?

The good news is that we can already prevent hypertension by making simple changes in our lifestyle. Here are some of the most important elements we should take care of in order to do so:

1. Reduce salt and keep a healthy diet.

Reducing your salt intake is one of the most effective ways to keep your blood pressure under control - even more so if you have been consuming too much salt so far. The recommended daily amount of salt intake is no more than the equivalent of half of one teaspoon. This is really very little, considering also that most of the products we consume already contain salt. So it is best not to add it to prepared meals anymore.

When choosing a diet, it's also a good idea to limit highly processed products, such as chips and sweets.

2. Quit smoking.

Each cigarette you smoke raises your blood pressure for several to several dozen minutes. If you smoke a lot, your blood pressure may even be elevated for a longer period of time. Quitting smoking can effectively help you lower your blood pressure. What's more, it carries many other benefits for your health.

It is also worth mentioning here that people with diagnosed hypertension should definitely not smoke, as it seriously increases their risk of stroke and heart attack.

3. Be active

Regular exercise is an important part of hypertension prevention. Even 30 minutes a day dedicated to light exercise can help us do so. Such exercise can be, for example, a brisk walk. However, it is important to go for a walk regularly. Fitale can help you with that! Fitale is a fitness based mobile game, in which your steps can be exchanged for progress in the app. Fitale is free and you can check it out here, on the AppStore.

When to talk to the doctor?

It is a good idea to have your blood pressure measured regularly. If you don't have the right equipment, you can have your blood pressure measured at many pharmacies. Such measurement is a good way to monitor your health. If you notice that your blood pressure is often higher than the norm (above 140/90 mm Hg) during measurements, it is worth seeing a doctor.

If you often experience seemingly unjustified headaches, heart palpitations or excessive sleepiness, this is also a sign that it's time for a visit - these symptoms may be related to hypertension.

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