Studies for over 20 years have revealed that a lot of people particularly in developed countries have high blood pressure due to one reason or the other. In fact there are over a million people in the world suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension. The prevalence of hypertension is highest in the African Region at 46% of adults aged 25 years and above.
Blood pressure is the pressure of blood against the walls of the blood vessels(veins, arteries). It can be considered normal if it is 120/80mmhg, but a reading greater than 140/90mmhg indicates high blood pressure. Hypertension increases the risk of killer diseases like heart failure, kidney failure, stroke and aneurysms. If you haven’t checked yours, please see your health care provider now.
There are natural measures that can help reduce your blood pressure and they include;
- Exercise: This has been discovered to be of great advantage in managing high blood pressure for decades. Sedentary lifestyle or a life of inactivity has been linked with weigh gain which can increase blood pressure. In a 2013 study, sedentary older adults who participated in aerobic exercise training lowered their blood pressure by an average of 3.9 percent systolic and 4.5 percent diastolic. Exercise further increases heart rate and breathing rates hence improving blood circulation which helps to lower blood pressure. Simple therapies like using the stairs, walking instead of driving, doing household chores, gardening and going for a bike ride can also help.
- Eat the right meals: In reducing high blood pressure, foods rich in potassium helps to remove excess water along with sodium from the blood. Excessive sodium in the body leads to an increases blood pressure. To reduce your blood pressure, you should increase your potassium intake and cut back on the salt in your diet. Potassium rich foods includes:
- Low-fat dairy foods, such as milk and yogurt
- Fruits, such as bananas, apricots, avocados, and oranges
- Vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, tomatoes, greens, and spinach
However, diets rich in potassium may be harmful to individuals with kidney disease, so talk to your doctor before increasing your potassium intake.
- Reduce your salt intake: Increased salt intake can increase blood pressure and pose one at risk of cardiovascular diseases. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends reducing salt intake using the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. The DASH diet emphasizes:
- Low-sodium foods
- Fruits and vegetables
- Low-fat dairy
- Whole grains
- Fewer sweets and red meats
Also ensure you reduce the consumption of processed foods because salts are using used to preserve them from spoilage. If you must consume these foods ensure they are thoroughly rinsed with clean water.
- Stop smoking: Smoking can cause a whole lot of adverse effects on your heart if not stopped. It can also cause immediate but temporary increase in your blood pressure which can pose a threat to the body especially if there are any other underlined condition. In the long term, the chemicals in tobacco can increase blood pressure by damaging your blood vessel walls, causing inflammation by narrowing and hardening your arteries which increases blood pressure.
- Reduce stress: The stress hormone released in the body stimulates the release of a chemical in the kidney known as ‘ renin’ which causes increased blood pressure. It is crucial to rest as much as you can. Likewise sleeplessness is a major cause of increased blood pressure so adequate sleep helps to reduce blood pressure. The following tips can help relieve stress:
- Practice deep breathing,
- Take a walk,
- Read a book
- Watch a movie
- Or watch a comedy.
- Listening to music daily
- A cool bath