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Reduce hypertension with lifestyle change

We all want to lead a long and healthy life, and most of us pay a visit to the doctor when we feel unwell. But, not all health concerns show symptoms and often go untreated until it’s too late. One of these concerns is hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure. In South Africa, there’s an estimated 40% of the population living with high blood pressure, half of which are completely unaware. This silent killer rarely shows any symptoms but, if high blood pressure goes unchecked, it can lead to health problems including heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. While this sounds alarming, don’t panic, a change in lifestyle can go a long way to lowering your risk. Do you want to know how to reduce high blood pressure without medication? Keep reading – it’s time to live a healthy life!   

Learn how to reduce high blood pressure naturally

If you are serious about learning how to reduce high blood pressure, you need to take stock of your living habits. High blood pressure can affect anyone, at any time, regardless of age and gender. While family history and growing older increases your risk, you are not immune in your youth. That’s why it’s important to take your heart health seriously from an early age. The best way to do this is by making healthy lifestyle choices. With a few adjustments to your way of life, you can lower and maintain your blood pressure. Learn how to reduce high blood pressure with these seven healthy habits:

Watch your waistline

Your weight can have a direct effect on your blood pressure by putting a strain on your arteries, heart and circulatory system. If you are overweight, losing as little as 4,5kg can start making a difference to your blood pressure. Your waistline, in particular, is a critical focus area. Carrying extra fat around your waist not only increases your risk of high blood pressure but other health concerns too. Generally, a waist measurement greater than 102 centimetres for men, and 89 centimetres for women puts you at risk but always check with your doctor.

Up your exercise

The easiest way to start losing the extra kilograms is to start moving more. Regular exercise strengthens your heart, putting less pressure on your arteries. Aiming for 150 minutes a week can go as far as lowering your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg. Not only that, but physical activity also boosts your mood and reduces the risk of diabetes and heart health problems.

Eat a balanced diet

Weight loss and regular exercise go hand in hand with a healthy diet. And no, that doesn’t mean fad or crash diets. Instead, a healthy diet should consist of a balanced eating plan. A well-known eating plan that helps lower blood pressure is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. This plan emphasises fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid foods high in saturated fats, such as processed foods, full-fat dairy, sweets and fatty meats.

Cut back on the salt

The amount of sodium in your diet is another factor to take into consideration. Too much sodium in your diet causes your body to retain fluid resulting in a rise in blood pressure. The recommended limit is between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams per day. To put that into perspective, one teaspoon of table salt contains 2,300 milligrams of sodium. Swap the salt for herbs and spices when you’re cooking for flavourful food without the excess sodium. Also, keep an eye on the food labels when doing your grocery shopping. Processed food, in particular, includes high amounts of sodium.

Limit your alcohol intake

Alcohol abuse has many negative effects on your health, high blood pressure included. If you happen to be taking medication for high blood pressure, excessive drinking can also reduce the effectiveness of these drugs. Don’t worry. You don’t have to give up your glass of wine at dinner time. It’s perfectly acceptable to drink in moderation. The recommended limit is one alcoholic drink per day for women, and two for men.

Kick the nicotine habit

The dangers of smoking are well known, but did you know that every cigarette you smoke temporarily raises your blood pressure? Heavy smokers can experience an elevated blood pressure for extended periods of time. The chemicals found in tobacco also cause damage to your arteries. If you are a smoker, quitting can improve your health and lower your risk of heart disease.

Manage your stress levels

The demands of daily life can be stressful. Work, family, finances – these all raise your stress levels, and sometimes finding time to relax takes the back seat. When you’re stressed out, your hormones constrict your blood vessels, spiking your blood pressure. Excess stress can also lead to unhealthy habits such as overeating and alcohol abuse, both of which have a negative impact on your heart health. It’s vital to find ways to reduce your stress levels when maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s listening to music, reading a book, or taking a walk, set aside some valuable downtime every day to de-stress. Yoga or meditation are also good ways to lower your stress levels.

Now that you know how to reduce high blood pressure at home, you can start implementing your healthy lifestyle. Keep an eye on your blood pressure with Elixi Medical Insurance. All our plans offer annual wellness screenings which include health checks for blood pressure. Compare our plans today – it’s never too early to invest in your health.