In Singapore, one in two people aged 60 years and older suffer from hypertension. It is a common problem because of the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles. Having hypertension puts you at risk of strokes, heart attack, and other life-threatening complications. Unfortunately, if you have high blood pressure already, you will have to control it for the rest of your life.
Here are ways that will help you keep your blood pressure normal.
Lose extra weight
Even just a reduction of 5% of your mass can make a lot of difference in your blood pressure. Remember that the bigger you get, the harder your heart has to work.
Watch your sodium intake
It is difficult to avoid food that are high in salt because it is present in nearly everything we eat. Studies show that high sodium intake affect blood pressure, although genetics and how the body processes salt also play a role. If your family has a history of cardiovascular diseases, you are considered high risk. Cut back on your sodium intake by avoiding highly processed food.
Reduce caffeine and alcohol
Limit your coffee (and tea) to one cup per day if you have high blood pressure. Studies show that it can increase blood pressure short-term especially if you are one of those who are caffeine sensitive. Alcohol is also a common culprit for hypertension. Limit your intake to one glass a day or less. Both alcohol and caffeine have positive effects on the body but they need to be taken in moderation.
Watch your potassium level
Potassium helps your body get rid of excess sodium. Sometimes with a restrictive diet, your daily intake of potassium becomes less, so you need to make sure that you add potassium-rich food to your meals. These include tuna, dairy, salmon, beans, nuts, leafy green vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, seeds, banana, avocado, melon, and oranges.
Get regular exercise
But not just any exercise. You need to have a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. That is cumulative, which means that you can divide those 150 minutes by 7 days so you can consistently meet your goal even if you are busy. If you have issues with pain, ask your doctor about safe workout routines that you can try at home.
A lot of people only point to lack of exercise and poor diet as the cause of hypertension, but you should not downplay the role of stress. When you are stressed, your heart pumps faster and your blood vessels are constricted. This is okay during fight or flight situations, but prolonged and repeated stress damages the body. Stress also makes you more likely to engage in unhealthy activities like binge eating and alcoholism.