High blood pressure is considered the nation’s ‘silent killer’ as there are no obvious signs or symptoms and when you consider it affects more than one in four adults in the UK something obviously needs to be done to change this.
High blood pressure accounts for 12% of visits to GPs in England, and the latest Public Health England figures show that the annual cost of the disease amounts to a whopping £2.1 billion annually.
And there is something that you can do to help reduce your risk of high blood pressure. These four simple lifestyle changes could cut your risk drastically and improve your overall health too.
Cut down salt
Reducing your salt intake is the quickest way to lower your blood pressure, your should limit your intake to 2,300 mg a day or less. To decrease the levels in your diet you need to track how much you’re currently eating, read food labels and opt for low-sodium options wherever possible. Eating fewer processed foods will make a huge difference to your salt intake too, as they’re packed with the white stuff to give them flavour and taste. And lastly, don’t add salt; don’t put it on the dinner table and choose herbs and spices to add flavour to meals instead.
Watch your weight
Being the right weight for your height (a healthy BMI) lowers your blood pressure because your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. Losing weight, if you need to, will help reduce your blood pressure and heart strain too.
It’s important that you keep an eye on your waistline too, and taking measurements could help keep track of your health too. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure. Men are a risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches and women, 35 inches.
We’re not talking hitting the gym on a daily basis, but upping your aerobic exercises is a must. Being more active and taking regular exercise (30 minutes five times a week is ideal) lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and arteries in good condition.
If you have high blood pressure your focus should be on activities that will help your heart and blood vessels. Aerobic activity will help your heart the most; these are repetitive and rhythmic exercises using large muscle groups of your body like your legs, shoulders and arms. Walking, jogging, swimming and dancing are all classed as aerobic exercises.
Intensive exercise like sprinting or weightlifting will not help your heart health, as they quickly raise your blood pressure and put unwanted strain on the heart and blood vessels.
Limit your alcohol intake
If your drink more than moderate amounts of alcohol you can raise your blood pressure by several points, and it can also affect the effectiveness of high blood pressure medications.
Guidelines advise that men should drink no more than 3-4 units daily, and women should limit themselves to 2-3 units.
A pint of normal strength beer equals 2 units and a medium glass of wine equals 2 units.