As at press time yesterday, the results of the presidential and the National Assembly elections were still being announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Naturally, while some camps have been jubilating, others have been wondering what hit them. For such people, physicians say developing high blood pressure that could lead to untoward consequences, health-wise, is real.
Generally, the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood around the body to supply our muscles and cells. Cardiologists say this activity generates pressure – blood pressure.
Clinical Biochemist and Products Manager (Diagnostics), New Heights Pharma, Mr. Olayinka Ebenezer, says normal blood pressure should be at or below 120 over 80 mmHg (120/80).
He explains, “The blood pressure of someone who is pre-hypertensive would read anywhere between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg. This means that you don’t have high blood pressure now, but are likely to develop it in future. Then you need to take steps to prevent it.”
Stage 2 hypertension is a blood pressure above 160/100, hence the need to monitor your blood pressure religiously once you hit age 40.
Mention the phrase “blood pressure,” and the average adult is likely to stand still. For all reasons, issues relating to blood pressure readily arrest attention because it’s one aspect of personal health matter that determines whether or not you stay alive – and in sound health.
Blood pressure and health
Experts at the America-based National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute say about one in three adults has high blood pressure. And, as scary as it is, they warn that the condition usually presents with no signs or symptoms. As such, you may be walking around blissfully unaware that your days are numbered because of uncontrolled high blood pressure!
“You can have it for years without knowing it. During this time, though, high blood pressure can damage your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body,” the scientists enthuse.
Knowing your blood pressure numbers is important, they advise, even when you’re feeling fine. “If your blood pressure is normal, you can work with your physician to keep it that way. On the other hand, if your blood pressure is too high, treatment may help prevent damage to your body’s organs,” they add.
The age, sex factors
Physicians warn that blood pressure tends to rise with age. However, they add, following a healthy lifestyle helps some people to delay or prevent rise in blood pressure altogether.
“People who have high blood pressure can take steps to control it and reduce their risk for related health problems. Key steps include following a healthy lifestyle, having ongoing medical care, and following your treatment plan,” General Practitioner, Dr. Folabi Awolaye, counsels.
In terms of gender, experts say men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters); while women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (89 cm).
Good life, good BP
Of course, those whose blood pressures are high are advised to keep in constant touch with their physicians, just as they are also always counselled to imbibe healthy dietary habits and lifestyle that will not only return their blood pressure to normal, but also keep it at healthy level.
So, what is the natural way to realise a healthy blood pressure level? Here…
A Consultant Cardiologist, Dr. Peter Olumide, says there’s no arguing the fact that unwieldy weight poses health risk any day. He warns that the heavier you are on the scale, the more likely is your risk of high blood pressure; and that by losing weight, you are doing your blood pressure a world of good!
He also reveals that if you’ve been placed on some blood-pressure medications, losing weight would make the drugs more effective.
Lower your salt intake
Olumide notes that people with family history of high blood pressure could have blood pressure that is particularly salt sensitive. Nutritionists corroborate this, saying since there is no way to determine if an individual is sodium sensitive, it is advisable for all of us to lower our sodium (salt) intake.
A nutritionist, Mrs. Tolu Afuwape, says the problem is with the “hidden salts” rather than with using a salt shaker. “When you habitually eat processed or canned foods, you unwittingly consume more than the recommended daily salt intake, because processed foods such as bacon, salami, cured meat, barbecued meat, etc; or canned foods of all categories, contain added salts that are meant to preserve them from going bad.
“Loading yourself with such foods will ruin your health in no time; so, avoid them like the plague that they are,” Afuwape advises.
Generally, tea is good for the body; but when it comes to lowering high blood pressure over a period of time and keeping it at healthy level, nutritionists recommend hibiscus tea.
For instance, researchers from Tufts University say “the phytochemicals in hibiscus are probably responsible for the large reduction in high blood pressure when taken as tea.”
They are of the view that many herbal teas contain hibiscus and should therefore be adopted as healthy drinks because they are known to reduce blood pressure in pre- and mildly hypertensive adults.
Again, a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medical, Dr. Linda Van Horn, says consuming potassium-rich fruits such as beans, baked potato, green leafy vegetables, plain yoghurt, salmon fish, avocados, bananas, cashews, walnuts, coconut water, watermelon seeds, home-made orange juice, sweet potato, fresh tomatoes, etc., will boost your blood pressure-lowering efforts.
Go easy on booze
While the debates have continued unabated about the pros and cons of alcohol use, Awolaye is categorical in warning that alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points. “It can also reduce the effectiveness of high blood pressure medications you may be using,” he notes.
His advice? “As much as possible, avoid alcohol; the disadvantages outweigh whatever advantages you may be told it has.”
Reduce your stress level
Increased stress can mean increased blood pressure, at least temporarily. If you’re at risk for high blood pressure due to being overstressed, you’ll want to pay particular attention to lowering your stress.
Many activities can help you stay calmer in the face of daily life stressors. Many of the same healthy actions that are good for your blood pressure – like eating right and exercising – can also be stress preventers.
In addition to exercise, other forms of relaxation like meditation or deep breathing can also be helpful, physicians say.