Nearly 20% of Canadians have hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, with another 20% to 25% having pre-hypertension meaning they’re likely to develop full-blown hypertension in the future. Hypertension comes with an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure, making it the number one cause of death in the world.
While a lot of people don’t know that they have hypertension, there’s a good likelihood you do if you drink alcohol, consume a high-salt and high-calorie diet, don’t eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and don’t exercise.
It goes without saying that you should always consult a healthcare professional about any major lifestyle changes. But if your doctor has told you have hypertension or pre-hypertension, or you suspect you might based on your diet or level of activity, what can you do about it?
- Lose weight: Men, you’re at risk if your waist measurement is greater than 102 cm, for women, it’s greater than 89 cm. Losing just 4.5 kg can help reduce your blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly: Thirty minutes a day of regular physical activity can lower your blood pressure. Some of the best exercises include cycling, jogging, walking and swimming.
- Eat healthy: A diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy as well as low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium can significantly lower your blood pressure. If you’re not sure where to begin, speak to your doctor or a dietitian.
- Drink less alcohol: Small amounts of alcohol can have a beneficial effect on your blood pressure. But more than one or two drinks a day is a bad idea.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking doesn’t only increase your risk for cancer. Each cigarette you smoke raises your blood pressure for several minutes. Stop.
- Relax: Stress even occasionally can lead to high blood pressure. Think about what causes you to become anxious, angry or upset and try to find ways to reduce or eliminate these problems or the way you react to them.
None of these suggestions are particularly easy. However, they’re all vitally important in helping reduce high blood pressure and living a long and healthy life. If you’re a bit overwhelmed and unsure where to start, speak to family and friends including other members of the Shop Talk Blog community forum, and of course, your doctor.
Did you know? Beware of saunas
Heat from hot tubs and saunas can cause blood vessels to open up, overexert your heart and cause dizziness, faint, nausea or a heart attack. If you have hypertension, speak to your doctor if you’re thinking of using a hot tub or sauna. (Source)