High blood pressure or hypertension has become India’s most deadly but silent killer. Approximately 20 crore Indians or one in four adults have high BP out of which only 50% are diagnosed and only 10% manage to keep their blood pressure levels in control. As high blood pressure symptoms are not visible, more than 50% people who suffer from hypertension are ignorant of their diagnosis. Thus, untreated and uncontrolled blood pressure results in more cases of heart troubles, strokes as well as kidney failures.
High blood pressure is a significant danger to cardiovascular health. It is estimated that 16% of Ischemic Heart Disease, 21% of Peripheral Vascular Disease, 24% of Acute Myocardial Infarctions and 29% of strokes are due to hypertension.
High blood pressure prevalence has shown a drastic increase in the past three decades, with a 20-40% occurrence among the urban population and 12-17% in the rural population. Also, high blood pressure is no longer restricted to the elderly, but it is affecting the younger generation as well. Worryingly, it is estimated that almost one-third of India’s population (almost 40 crore!) will have high blood pressure by 2020.
Many people suffering from hypertension are not even aware that they have high blood pressure unless they get it checked during a doctor’s visit, or until they start having other health troubles.
So, if diagnosed with hypertension, are medications the only remedy available to patients? No, in fact, post diagnosis, the doctor will recommend some simple home remedies for high blood pressure such as an altered lifestyle as the first line of treatment for high BP. Only if that is insufficient will they prescribe blood pressure medications.
Home Remedies For Blood Pressure:
Follow The High-Fibre, Low-Sodium DASH Diet – What you eat directly has an impact on your health. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet stresses on eating high-fibre, low-sodium foods such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, lean meats, fish, nuts, etc. that reduce blood pressure. This diet also advises people to avoid foods that increase blood pressure, like processed foods, full-fat dairy products, and fatty meats that contain saturated fat, trans fat and are high in cholesterol. The DASH diet stresses on the importance of including potassium in daily meals as potassium is an essential mineral that helps lower blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of salt (high salt intake increases blood pressure, so daily salt consumption should be between 1,500 – 2,300 mg only). If followed regularly, this diet plan can lower systolic blood pressure by almost 11 mm Hg.
Daily Physical Workout Is A Must – Getting some form of exercise daily is an important requirement to keep the body fit and healthy, and keep your blood pressure in check. A regular exercise regimen of around 35-40 minutes daily has shown to reduce blood pressure levels (a drop of 4 to 9 points). In particular, activities such as swimming, brisk walking, jogging/running and bike riding get the heart pumping faster and enable easier flow of blood and oxygen. Ideally, a schedule of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for 2 hours and 30 minutes per week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise for 1 hour and 15 minutes per week, can give great health results such as elevating the mood, improved strength and balance. It also helps lower blood pressure, decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Watch Your Weight And Waistline – Being overweight puts you at a higher risk of developing prehypertension and high blood pressure. Body weight is important in relation to blood pressure as extra mass requires more blood supply to carry oxygen, which puts more pressure on the blood vessels and arteries, thus raising the blood pressure. If already diagnosed with high blood pressure, being overweight is an obstacle in lowering your blood pressure. Losing weight by exercising and eating healthy is one of the most crucial and effective lifestyle changes that help control blood pressure. Also, closely monitor your waist size. An expanding waistline puts more pressure on the organs around the abdomen and can cause health troubles, including hypertension. Ideally, men should have a waist size under 40 inches and women under 35 inches. So, monitor your weight and waist size regularly to control high blood pressure and reduce your risk for other health problems such as sleep apnea.
Quit Smoking (and don’t start if you don’t smoke) – There is a reason that each pack of cigarettes is marked with a bold statutory warning- ‘Cigarette smoking is injurious to health and tobacco kills’. Every cigarette raises your blood pressure temporarily as the nicotine makes the blood vessels narrower and the heartbeat faster, thereby considerably increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases. Stay away from tobacco, cigarettes, and nicotine for a long, healthy life.
Drink Alcohol In Moderation – Alcohol consumed in moderation, that is one glass a day for women and two or less for men, is okay and may also help lower blood pressure. Overindulgence has ill effects on the overall health of your body. Not only does drinking in excess increases blood pressure by several points, it also reduces the effectiveness of blood pressure medications and can cause weight gain.
Manage Your Stress Levels – Chronic and persistent stress is bad for your health, with long term effects being high blood pressure levels. It helps to pinpoint stress triggers, like job pressures, family issues, financial troubles and health concerns, that may be causing the problems and working on a solution. Practicing yoga and meditation is a great stress-buster and can help lower blood pressure. Any health condition if not attended to in time can cause serious health issues in the future. Same applies for high blood pressure. If you do not take steps to control/treat your hypertension as soon as possible, it can lead to serious health conditions like heart attacks, strokes, dementia, memory loss and kidney problems later. So make sure that you consult your doctor and monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis. If you don’t detect high blood pressure, the blood pressure readings will at least set your mind at rest about your health. In case you do have high blood pressure or prehypertension, it will help you and your doctor chart out an effective course of treatment to control/monitor your high blood pressure.
Note of caution: This article is for information purposes only. Always consult your doctor in case of any blood pressure or other health-related problems.