Controlling high blood pressure requires combination of various approaches. It includes effective monitoring, appropriate treatment and most importantly, some changes to lifestyle choices. Following five changes will have an enormous impact both on controlling high pressure as well as your long-term health.
1. Quit smoking
Smoking has enormous bad impacts on our health. Besides causing cancer and other diseases, smoking directly affects your blood pressure profile. Many of the chemicals in cigarette smoke damage the walls of arterioles, causing a decrease in the ability of these small blood vessels to relax and increase blood pressure.
2. Control your weight
In addition to making existing high blood pressure worse, being overweight can contribute to the development of diabetes, which causes kidney damage and further worsening of high blood pressure. Studies have shown that even a 5 percent reduction in body weight is effective for decreasing blood pressure.
3. Control salt intake
Salt is a fiercely debated topic among high blood pressure researchers. While this debate is ongoing, there are two pieces of information we should know —
(a) Salt can make high blood pressure worse; and
(b) Too much salt can damage our heart.
For these reasons, controlling your salt intake is an important step in managing your high blood pressure.
4. Decrease bad fats
"Bad fats" (unsaturated fats and trans fats) have a negative effect on both your heart and your blood vessels. Too much of them can damage these important organs and lead to problems like heart attack. Decreasing intake of these fats will also aid in weight loss strategies.
5. Exercise more
Exercise strengthens your heart, improves circulation and helps keep off extra pounds. Because even modest levels of weight loss offer great benefit in reducing high blood pressure, and because your heart responds well to small amounts of extra work, even a little exercise can go a long way.
The writer is a Coordinator, Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM), Global Fund, Bangladesh.