Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a condition in which a persistent increase in pressure occurs in blood vessels.
Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pressing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) when it is pumped from the heart. So the higher the pressure, the more work for the heart. The good news is that lifestyle plays a very important role in keeping hypertension at bay. Here are some suggestions…
What is high blood pressure and what disorders does it involve?
Normal blood pressure is defined as 120mm Hg when the heart beats (systolic) and 80mm Hg when the heart relaxes (diastolic). It is considered high when the maximum is equal to or greater than 140 mm Hg and/or the minimum is equal to or greater than 90 mm Hg. High blood pressure can give rise to headaches, breathlessness, dizziness, chest pain, heart palpitations and nosebleeds. But, most hypertensive people do not show any symptoms. If not controlled, hypertension can lead to heart attack, heart failure, aneurysms, stroke, renal failure, blindness and cognitive impairment.
How to prevent high blood pressure
We can all adopt five concrete measures to minimise the risk of developing hypertension and its consequences:
- Choose the right diet: consume five portions of fruit and vegetables, reduce the salt to less than 5 g (less than one teaspoonful) a day and the intake of saturated and total fat.
- Limit alcohol intake at the WHO recommended dose (one cup per day for women, two for men).
- Exercise regularly and keep body weight in the norm. Every 5 kg of excess weight lost, the maximum pressure (systolic) can decrease from 2 to 10 points.
- Stop smoking.
Learn to manage stress in a healthy way, for example through meditation, appropriate physical exercises and positive social contacts.