The coming month of May is National Hypertension Awareness Month in the Philippines, under Presidential Proclamation No. 1761, issued on May 1, 2009, by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
According to the Department of Science and Technology and Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), hypertension is considered the largest single risk factor for deaths across the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that high blood pressure causes seven million deaths every year while 1.5 billion people experience health complications. In the Philippines, close to eight million adult Filipinos suffer from hypertension.
The normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hypertension is blood pressure that is higher than normal. Hypertension stage 1 is blood pressure between 130/80 mmHg to 139/89 mmHg while hypertension stage 2 is blood pressure greater than 140 mmHg/90 mmHg. It is considered a serious medical condition that can put an individual at risk of heart, kidney, brain, and other diseases.
Medicare Plus shares the following lifestyle changes that can help you prevent or manage your blood pressure.
Did you know that lack of physical activity is linked to many health issues, including high blood pressure? A sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of hypertension by up to 50%. Don’t worry, you can avoid this by staying active. Exercising helps lower your blood pressure by decreasing blood vessel stiffness, which enables blood to flow through your veins more easily. Engaging in 30-minute exercise (walking, jogging, biking, cardio exercises, etc.) at least three to five times a week can combat hypertension. Swimming, Zumba, and playing sports are also great activities that help fight high blood pressure.
It’s not a secret that many Filipinos love flavorful dishes that use generous amounts of salt, soy sauce, patis, and other seasoning agents. They also have a penchant for dipping sauces, as well as bagoong. Many Pinoys also enjoy eating salty chichirya and processed foods. High sodium consumption is a big factor that contributes to high blood pressure. Changing to a low sodium diet can help lower your blood pressure. It is recommended to read food labels to know the sodium content of the food or beverage that you’re buying. In addition, avoid or eat fewer processed foods. Finally, when cooking at home, use less salt in your dishes or go for salt substitutes such as garlic, herbs, spices, and other seasonings for flavor.
Include food that is rich in potassium in your diet to help regulate heart rate and lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Some recommended food sources of potassium are leafy green vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruits (bananas, oranges, melons, avocados), tomatoes, milk, cream cheese, yogurt, tuna, salmon, nuts, seeds, and beans.
If you have hypertension, you should be mindful of your alcohol intake. It is advisable to avoid alcohol or drink alcohol only in moderation. Also, keep in mind that alcohol may interact with your hypertension medications, so it’s best to ask your doctor for advice.
Puyat (getting fewer than six hours of sleep at night for consecutive weeks) can contribute to hypertension. If you have trouble sleeping, you can build better bedtime routines to improve sleep and avoid high blood pressure.
When you’re under stress, your body releases a deluge of hormones which can cause the heart to beat quicker and the blood vessels to narrow. These body reactions can result in brief spikes in a person’s blood pressure according to the Mayo Clinic. Take part in stress-reducing activities that you enjoy to help reduce or manage stress.
There’s no better time to make lifestyle changes than now to lower your blood pressure. Allot time and make an effort to engage in regular exercises, switch to a low sodium diet, and eat more foods rich in potassium. It is also recommended to limit your alcohol consumption, get enough sleep, and last but not least, avoid stress.