Prevention is better than cure. This timeless medical maxim certainly applies to many diseases, and hypertension is no exception.
Hypertension, together with other cardiovascular diseases, is the leading cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that 12.8% of all deaths in history are due to this condition. In the United States alone, about 100 million Americans, or 1 in 3 persons, are believed to have hypertension.
What’s more concerning is that compared to other diseases, hypertension rarely exhibits symptoms until it is too late, hence its reputation as a “silent killer.” High blood pressure levels often lead to fatal medical conditions, such as heart attack and stroke. With this in mind, it is a very useful thing to know how to prevent hypertension.
As with all diseases, prevention is key, and learning how to prevent hypertension is very important. If you are at risk, there are also certain things you can do to manage hypertension. A few, easy changes in your lifestyle and diet could pave the way for a healthy future.
What happens when you are hypertensive?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a long-term health condition that describes elevated pressure levels of blood pumping against your arteries.
Imagine your arteries are a water hose. When you squeeze the water hose tightly, the amount of water passing through the hose decreases, while the pressure of the water against the hose increases.
The same is true for high blood pressure and the arteries.
As blood pressure goes up, blood flow to your organs, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys decreases. Moreover, high blood pressure can even rupture or burst your arteries. This condition can lead to heart attack, heart failure, and even stroke if not treated properly.
What Causes Hypertension?
High blood pressure is a long-term condition, and you can have it for years without displaying outward symptoms. Older people are more at risk of developing this condition, due to their slower metabolism. This is why it is important to have regular checkups with your physician, who will also impart advice on how to prevent hypertension. If you are concerned about your blood pressure, you can also check it at home with a specialized device called a digital sphygmomanometer.
Hypertension can be caused by a number of factors:
If your family has a history of cardiovascular diseases, there is a risk that you might develop these conditions as well. However, this could also be due to a shared family environment, such as diet and lifestyle, not just hereditary traits.
An unhealthy lifestyle leads to hypertension. For example, excessive smoking and drinking can put extra pressure on your heart and arteries. They can also affect your kidneys and lungs, which in turn increases the likelihood of high blood pressure.
Our diet plays a large role in determining our blood pressure levels. Salt, or more specifically sodium, plays a factor in the health of our body’s arteries. Excessive sugar consumption, on the other hand, can lead to diabetes and obesity. Consuming either in unhealthy quantities could lead to an increased risk of hypertension.
Blood pressure rises as you get older, and the risk increases if you are in your 50s or older. At this point, the body’s metabolism slows down, making it harder for the heart and other organs to function efficiently.
Physical inactivity increases the risk of hypertension. Inversely, exercise is effective in lowering blood pressure. More on that below.
How Can Hypertension Be Prevented?
Here are a few easy ways on how to prevent hypertension and manage high blood pressure:
Being physically active is a good way to start on how to prevent hypertension, as well as a number of other diseases as well.
Staying active gives you more control over your heart rate and blood pressure.
It is especially beneficial for the body in the long run, especially if you lose weight. At least 150 minutes per week (corresponding to 30 minutes a day, five or more days per week) of moderate-intensity physical activity is all you need to keep your blood pressure healthy.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Knowing what to consume is important in us knowing how to prevent hypertension.
A healthy, balanced diet has countless benefits, and fruits and vegetables are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals.
To prevent hypertension, indulge in a diet rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein, and fiber, but low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Weight Loss, if Needed
Body weight plays a central role in how to prevent hypertension. Obesity increases the risk for high blood pressure.
Conversely, weight loss substantially decreases the risk. For nearly eight pounds of fat lost, the risk of hypertension is reduced by as much as 50 percent.
Lower Salt and Sugar Intake
Lessening salt and sugar intake makes for a substantial and immediate reduction in the risk of hypertension. By cutting back on salt and sugar, the arteries are able to transport blood more efficiently. The chance of heart attack and stroke is decreased as well.
Living in a stressful environment increases the risk of high blood pressure. The mental benefits of staying in a peaceful environment allow for more relaxed heart rate levels. A good night’s sleep also helps.
High consumption of alcoholic beverages leads to higher blood pressure levels. Women who consume two or more alcoholic drinks per day and men who have three or more drinks per day have significant increased risks of hypertension compared to non-alcoholic drinkers. Arteries are strained if more than one or two glasses of alcohol are imbibed. Cutting back allows for more relaxed pathways, allowing for easier transport of blood and less pressure from the heart.
Assessing your current habits is a great way to start learning how to prevent hypertension. A change in lifestyle really helps in preemptively preventing hypertension. But in the case of higher blood pressure levels, you may have to take medication as advised by your physician. As with all medical maladies, it is still best to consult with your doctor and go to the hospital to have yourself checked if needed.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.