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High Blood Pressure

 

Blood pressure is a term used to monitor the pressure of your blood against the inner walls of your arteries as it is pumped around the body. The flow of blood and your blood pressure rises (called ‘systole’) and falls (called ‘diastole’) in a regular pattern according to your heart beat.  

 

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a medical condition that can lead to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney disease. Hypertension often presents with no signs or symptoms, therefore it is important that you have your blood pressure checked regularly.      

 

Normal blood pressure is generally less than 120/80 mmHg.

 

Being overweight, having high blood cholesterol, smoking and having other medical conditions which affect circulation, such as diabetes, are major risk factors for developing hypertension. Hypertension can be managed with diet and lifestyle changes as well as medications if necessary. In addition to reducing smoking and alcohol intake, your health professional may advise you to: 

 

Maintain a healthy weight  

Being overweight, particularly around your midsection increases the pressure on your heart to pump blood and therefore increases overall blood pressure. Research shows that modest weight loss of 5-10% can improve your blood pressure.      

 

Maintain a healthy diet  

The added pressure on the arteries can speed up the clogging of arteries with fatty plaques which directly increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Heart health can be improved by small dietary changes such as:  

  • Reducing fat and cholesterol intake,  
  • Having plenty of plant based foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and legumes,  
  • Choosing high fibre wholegrain cereals products,  
  • Having lean cuts of meat and low fat dairy products, and  
  • Including fish at least twice a week.  

 

Reduce salt intake  

The typical Australian diet is high in salt. A diet high in salt can increase fluid retention, which in turn increases blood pressure.  To reduce your salt intake, refrain from adding extra salt to meals instead flavouring your foods with herbs, spices or chilli, and choose low salt options.      

 

Exercise  

Exercise has been shown to lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension. Australian guidelines recommend that adults undertake some form of physical activity for 45-60 minutes at a moderate intensity on all or most days of the week. Benefits can still be seen when individuals break up exercise sessions for example into two 20 minutes or three 15 minute bouts. 

 

If you are concerned about your blood pressure, speak to your health professional.      

 

Disclaimer  

The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.   Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.      

 

Sources  

Heart Foundation http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/ cardiovascular-conditions/Pages/blood-pressure.aspx  

'Beneficial health effects of modest weight loss’ Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 16(6):397-415. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1322866