Building heart healthy habits: Small diet, lifestyle changes for big impact on Hypertension
Most people with hypertension have no symptoms. Following these small heart healthy habits can go a long way towards reducing blood pressure
Hypertension is a major cause of premature death worldwide and as per the reports, the overall prevalence of hypertension is 30% while it is estimated that 46% of adults with hypertension are unaware of it. According to health experts, the factors associated with hypertension are old age, obesity, hereditary, poor diet, inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, drinking too much alcohol or a high-salt diet but most people with hypertension have no symptoms.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Priya Palimkar, Senior Consultant, Cardiologist at Sahyadri Hospitals in Pune, shared, "Hypertension is a crucial modifiable risk factor for heart attacks or strokes. It can be present in individuals who appear healthy without showing any symptoms, earning it the name "the silent killer." If left inadequately treated over the years, it can lead to complications affecting the heart, brain, eyes, and kidneys, known as "target organ damage." Managing hypertension is vital to reduce the risk of these serious health issues."
Talking about small changes that can help one manage hypertension, she revealed, “Success in managing hypertension lies in consistently making small changes over time. Adopting a healthy diet, with a focus on nutritious food and limiting salt intake to 5 grams per day, plays a significant role. Engaging in aerobic exercises of moderate intensity for 150 minutes per week promotes cardiovascular health and helps regulate blood pressure. Regularly monitoring blood pressure, especially for those with a family history of hypertension, allows for timely intervention.”
Dr Priya Palimkar added, “Adhering to prescribed medications as directed by a doctor is crucial for effective management. Implementing these changes in daily habits can have a significant impact on managing hypertension. A healthy diet, low in sodium and rich in essential nutrients, can help regulate blood pressure levels. Regular physical exercise contributes to improved cardiovascular health and lowered blood pressure. Consistently monitoring blood pressure enables early detection of any fluctuations, ensuring timely adjustments in treatment plans. By consistently following these habits over time, individuals can effectively manage their hypertension and reduce the risk of complication.”
Dr Anil Ballani, Consultant, Internal Medicine at PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre in Khar, asserted that very high blood pressure can cause headaches, blurred vision, chest pain, nosebleeds and palpitations but the following small measures can go a long way towards reducing blood pressure:
- Less salt in the diet. Salt should not exceed 3-4 gms per day and avoid foods like salted chips, salted peanuts, papad, pickles and salted biscuits
- Stop smoking completely
- Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes for 5 days a week. Exercise should be preferable, cardio-aerobic exercise in the form of swimming, cycling, walking in the gym preferably treadmill, cycling, and cross-training
- Alcohol should be consumed in moderation; 2 drinks 3 times a week maximum
- In an obese person, weight reduction is very important to get the BMI below 25.
- It is very essential to sleep for 8-10 hours every day. Lack of sleep causes hypertension.
- Reduce stress in daily life through yoga, meditation, and music. Working hours should be limited, and adequate rest is essential
- As far as diet is concerned, a potassium-rich diet helps reduce hypertension. Potassium-rich foods are tomatoes, beans, mushrooms, avocado, kiwis and nuts
- Too much coffee is harmful. Therefore, it is important to reduce caffeine intake
- As far as oils is concerned, the best are polyunsaturated fatty oils. One should limit saturated oils and transfat in their diet.
- The best way is to monitor your blood pressure regularly with your family doctor. Medicine prescribed for hypertension should always be taken under the supervision of the doctor. It is important that blood pressure medication be taken preferably at the same time.