What is Hypertension?
Blood pressure is the force of circulating blood against the walls of the body’s arteries, the major blood vessels in the body. High blood pressure occurs when the force of the blood pressure is excessive.
Although experts are still unclear on what specifically causes hypertension, several factors put you at risk.
Conditions that increase the risk for high blood pressure
Elevated Blood Pressure
Elevated blood pressure is blood pressure that is slightly higher than normal. Hypertension usually develops gradually. If you have a slightly higher blood pressure than normal, you’re at a higher risk of developing chronic hypertension in the future.
You have elevated blood pressure if your blood pressure is between 120/80 mmHg and 129/80 mmHg.
Nearly 6 out of 10 people with Diabetes also have High blood pressure. Diabetes causes sugar build-up in the blood and damages arteries causing atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Diabetes increases the risk of developing hypertension, leading to blood vessel damage, heart attack, and kidney failure if not treated.
Lifestyle choices that increase the risk for high blood pressure
Too much salt in your diet
Too much salt (sodium) in your diet can cause the body to retain fluid and also cause the arteries in your body to constrict. Most of the sodium we consume comes from processed foods.
Too little potassium in your diet
Potassium helps balance sodium levels in the body. When potassium levels are low, your kidneys retain more sodium in the body, leading to increased blood pressure. Potassium has a vital role in relaxing the blood vessels, which helps lower blood pressure.
Harmful amount of alcohol
Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure and other metabolic conditions. Alcohol can affect calcium levels, cortisol levels, and baroreceptor sensitivity, increasing blood pressure levels. Having more than two drinks per day can cause hypertension
Lack of physical activity
People with low activity levels have a 30-50 percent higher risk of developing high blood pressure. Being active lowers blood pressure and keeps your heart and blood vessels in good shape, reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Being overweight or obese
Being obese or overweight means your heart must work harder to pump blood and oxygen around your body. As your weight increases, your blood pressure can increase.
Low intake of fruits and vegetables and eating foods that contain saturated fat and trans fats can put you at risk for hypertension, obesity, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels. Nicotine raises blood pressure. Breathing in carbon monoxide produced from smoking tobacco reduces the oxygen amount your blood can carry.
How to prevent and manage hypertension?
Lifestyle changes, mainly diet and exercise, are useful for preventing and treating hypertension, especially in adults with elevated BP
- Follow the DASH DIET
- Reduce sodium intake (to less than 5g daily)
- Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet
- Avoid foods with saturated fats and trans fats
- Avoid tobacco
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Be physically active, daily
- Get quality sleep
Follow these lifestyle changes to prevent and manage hypertension.
As always, it is important to get your blood pressure levels checked regularly and follow the doctor’s treatment plan. Joining a program like Un-Chronic Yourself will take your diabetes management to the next level. You will receive proactive care with features like real-time health data tracking, 24*7 virtual care, personalized wellness care plans, and more.