World Health Day focuses on high blood pressure

By Mariam Digges

World Health Day focuses on high blood pressure
This Sunday marks World Health Day, with a focus on high blood pressure – a silent killer affecting one third of adults worldwide, many of whom are not even aware they are living with it.

According to the WHO, more than one in three adults worldwide has high blood pressure. What’s even more concerning is that many of those living with the chronic illness might not even know it, because it doesn’t always leave warning signs. In fact, the WHO believes that over nine million deaths in the world each year can be attributed to high blood pressure, manifesting in heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, blindness and heart failure. Below are some measures we can all take to ensure we know we’re at risk, and improve our chances of lowering blood pressure levels.

Get Tested

As a general rule of thumb, men are more susceptible to high blood pressure when their waist measures larger than 40 inches. For women, waist measurements greater than 35 inches puts them at a high risk. In saying this, a smaller waist does not mean you are exempt from the illness; the only way to know for certain is to get tested. If you’re not already getting a yearly physical, it’s a good idea to start. Your GP will most likely automatically check your blood pressure level, as well as your weight.

Preventing and Reducing High Blood Pressure

If you already have high blood pressure or are concerned of getting it, here are some lifestyle tips to reduce your risk – sans medication. 

1. Maintain a healthy weight: this is crucial to preventing high blood pressure, and comes back to a healthy eating plan, teamed with regular daily exercise. 20 minutes of physical activity a day, coupled with a balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and essential fats, is the best way to ensure this.

Reducing stress levels:  another way to keep your blood pressure levels in check is to try to eliminate potential stress factors in your life. Practicing deep breathing techniques, taking up yoga classes, or swimming are other lifestyle choices that will not only help you manage your stress levels and in turn your blood pressure levels, but also assist you in maintaining better overall health. 

What to avoid

There are some key things to steer clear of if you want to downsize your chances of high blood pressure. Avoid excess alcohol, salt, and tobacco, as these are all risks that can lead to inflated blood pressure levels. Limit alcohol to a glass of wine with dinner, check labels for salt quantities (processed foods are the most problematic, so cooking at home means you can better control your salt intake), and smoking is the final substance to steer clear of, if you’re looking to slash your blood pressure levels and maintain a healthier lifestyle.


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