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September 2010
10 Ways to Manage High Blood Pressure
    Prof Kennedy

Normal blood pressure is usually between 110/70 up to 120/80. Anything above that and up to 140/90 is often referred to as borderline or mild hypertension, numbers above that may be referred to as high blood pressure.

What is Blood Pressure?
The pressure exerted by the flow of blood inside the blood vessels is known as blood pressure. When this pressure is abnormally high, it is referred to as high blood pressure or hypertension. The pressure inside the artery rises and falls with every beat of the heart. Maximum pressure is exertedwhen the heart contracts and pumps blood into the arteries. This pressure is referred to a Systolic pressure. When the heart relaxes between contractions and is not pumping blood into the arteries, the blood pressure within the arteries falls, this is known as Diastolic pressure and is the lower of the two numbers.

Is It Harmful?
If ignored, yes it is. Hypertension puts a considerable strain on the heart and blood vessels and is often referred to as a silent killer, because it displays no clear symptoms. Untreated hypertension is the leading cause of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney damage and severe eye damage. About 20 percent of our population is affected with High Blood Pressure which is categorised either an Essential Hypertension or Secondary Hypertension.

Tips to Manage High Blood Pressure
  1. Medical Check up: Since High Blood Pressure is a silent killer and has no discernable symptoms, the first thing to do is to have a medical check-up every year to monitor your blood pressure.
  2. Medication: is often prescribed by the physician to reduce fluid retention, relax the artery muscles etc.Make sure you don’t miss even a single doseof medication and have it on time, to avoid further complication or even serious situations.
  3. Lose Weight: In case you are overweight, you must shed your excess weight. You can do this by containing you dietary intake to not more than 1200 calories per day. Include sufficient fruits, vegetables and dietary fibre in your meals to lose 2 to 3 kilograms per month.
  4. Avoid Saturated Fats:   These include butter, ghee, whole cream milk, meat fats, eggs, coconut oil, margarine and other hydrogenated fats. Instead, use moderate quantities of unsaturated oils including mustard oil, olive oil, rice bran oil, groundnut oil, sunflower oil etc.
  5. Reduce Salt Intake: All foods contain natural sodium and potassium salts. Avoid salted snacks like chips, nuts, salted pop corn and other fast foods, all of which contain large amounts of salt, sugar, fat and other chemicals and preservatives.
  6. Exercise Regularly: for at least one hour a day, 5 to 6 days a week. The easiest exercise is brisk walking, yoga is excellent so is swimming. Avoid weight lifting and active competitive sports.
  7. Quit Smoking: this includes all types of cigarettes including cigars, pipes, hookahs, beedisetc.
  8. Control Alcohol: Never exceed one or two units of alcohol per day. A unit is a 60ml peg of spirits, 200ml of whine, or 400 ml of beer. Do not drink more than once or twice a week and never drink on two consecutive days.
  9. Manage Stress: Stress and mental tension is caused by over ambition, over work, problems at work, difficult relationships, home problems, financial problems, health problems etc. These daily tensions are the prime cause for hypertension. Daily exercise, support from family and friends, helps to manage and reduce the effects of stress.
  10. Rest and Relaxation: Sleep for at least 8 hours every night. Spend the weekends with family and friends. Cultivate a hobby and take a 10 to 15-day break from work and give yourself a well-deserved holiday at least once or twice a year.                                                    
With all these tips in mind, don’t fear your High Blood Pressure - let it fear you. BPositive and stay healthy.
Prof Adrin Kennedy is International guru on health, wellness and life style medicine and guest faculty for Harvard Medical School, USA

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