High BP: what is it and how diet and fitness can help

Also called hypertension, high blood pressure is when your blood moves through your blood vessels with extra force. As the blood pressure gets elevated, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through the vessels. High resting blood pressure can scar or weaken the blood vessels. Left unchecked, high blood pressure can lead to potentially risky medical conditions like heart disease, stroke, vision loss and kidney failure. According to a recent survey by the Cardiological Society of India, one in five young adults in India, amounting to roughly 80 million people- suffer from high blood pressure. On the other hand, a study by the Global Burden of Disease revealed that hypertension had caused 16.3 lakh deaths in India in the year 2016 and was the reason behind 57 percent of strokes and 24 percent of coronary heart disease deaths. 

The normal range for blood pressure is 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic). High blood pressure is when a person’s reading goes beyond the normal range. 

High BP Symptoms: High blood pressure usually does not produce any major symptoms. It’s also the reason why high BP is sometimes referred to as a ‘silent killer’. Most people suffering from high BP do not even realise their condition until its late. Hence early screening for BP is routinely being recommended by doctors. However, extremely high blood pressure can cause nose bleeds, difficulty in breathing, fatigue, headache, blurred vision, pain in the chest, blood in the urine, etc.

Who is at risk of high BP: There are numerous risk factors that can increase your chances of having high blood pressure. Having a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight is increasingly being cited as a key factor. Genes also play a role and a family history of high BP makes you susceptible to having the condition yourself. Men, as compared to women, while older people, as compared to the younger lot are more likely to have high BP. Of course, factors like excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, a diet high in salt and diabetes are precursors for high BP.

Role of diet: Altering your lifestyle with a regular commitment to healthy and clean eating can have immediate positive effects on your blood pressure. Get rid of your temptations for a diet rich in salt, sugar, fat, processed and junk items, and switch to whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Have fresh, local, and seasonal produce and eat at home as much as possible. Make a conscious effort to reduce the intake of sodium in your diet by cutting back on processed food like chips and instant noodles. A good idea would be to have 1500 mg a day or less of sodium in a day. Since potassium intake is said to lower BP levels, have it through natural sources like bananas, spinach and melons. Too much alcohol can play havoc with your system and raise your blood pressure, so please go easy with the booze. A few studies claim that excess caffeine can also elevate your blood pressure, so try and have only little of it.

Role of Fitness: Having excess pounds on your body will always be a hindrance to lowering your blood pressure. So if you are overweight and have a big waistline, losing weight is the first thing you should consider in order to control high BP. Set aside a minimum of 30 minutes every day for some kind of aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, running, cycling, and swimming apart from some strength training every now and then. Regular exercise on most days of the week will boost your metabolism, increase your muscle mass, elevate the calorie-burning rate and help you shed the extra weight. Along with a healthy diet and exercise, make sure to have a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night. A fit and energetic lifestyle are essential for controlling blood pressure level and achieve overall good health. 

Chronic stress, anxiety, and smoking also play a role in raising your blood pressure levels. Manage your mood with positive hobbies, stress-reducing pastimes and relaxation techniques. By quitting smoking, you can gift yourself good health including lower BP levels. 

OneFitplus customer, 59-year-old Santosh Kumar had an extremely busy schedule, that involved long working hours while sitting combined with high-stress levels. Due to the hectic life, he would either skip meals or not eat for long hours and very often, dine outside as part of official lunch or dinner. Needless to say, he had little time to exercise. As a result, he accumulated a lot of weight and reached 80 kg. Along with the weight, he developed the problem of high BP. OneFitplus diet coach prepared a customized diet and exercise plan for Santosh, based on his health requirements. Good carbs like whole-grain and millet, fibre and protein were added to his diet even as he was asked to sleep a minimum of 7 hours and bring up his water intake. Santosh made a slow start on the treadmill but gradually, gained stamina and increased the duration of his daily workout. He also kept track of his daily physical activity and calories consumed on the OneFitplus App. Soon, he has not just dropped 3 kg weight, his blood pressure also came in the normal range

“I feel so much healthier and energetic now. I am grateful to OneFitplus for showing me the path to a new and improved lifestyle. I am confident of taking this journey further and achieving even better results”, said Santosh.

Early detection and screening of high blood pressure are important to prevent any further complications. Key lifestyle changes including a balanced diet and exercise along with necessary medication for high BP can minimise the risk of having life-threatening situations like heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. 

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