Hypertension: Occurrence, Risk Factors, Favourable Foods, and More

Live Well Tips HBP Hypertension: Occurrence, Risk Factors, Favourable Foods, and More

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a condition where the pressure in blood vessels is unusually high.

Blood pressure is represented by two values. The systolic pressure (first number) is the pressure applied by blood when the heart contracts and the diastolic pressure (second number) is the pressure applied by blood when the heart expands.

A person is said to have hypertension when the systolic pressure is 140 mm Hg or higher (120 mm Hg is normal) and the diastolic pressure is 90 mm Hg or higher d (80 mm Hg is normal) on three different occasions. hypertension does not usually have any symptoms and is sometimes called a ‘silent killer’.

History

A disease called ‘hard pulse disease’ in history is similar to what is known as ‘hypertension’ today. Old Chinese books noted that taking too much salt hardens the pulse. Similarly, a relationship between high pulse and heart disease was also mentioned by Ebers Papyrus, (1550 BCE) an Egyptian physician.

Hypertension was recognised worldwide with the discovery of the sphygmomanometer in 1896. [1] Later, it was studied more widely, which led to the identification of its causes and discovery of suitable treatments.

Prevalence of Hypertension

Estimates suggest that around 1.13 billion adults in the world have hypertension. Many of them may not know they have this condition. It is more common in people living in middle or low-income areas. Also, more men are affected by this condition than women. Hypertension is one of the main causes of premature deaths. [2]

Diet and Hypertension

Diet and hypertension are closely linked because the food you eat can affect your blood pressure. Controlling your blood pressure through diet is a natural and best way of managing hypertension. Research shows that foods having more salt and unhealthy fats can increase your blood pressure.

What Kind of Foods Help with Hypertension?

Fatty Fish

Eating fatty fishes like tuna, salmon, etc. has many health benefits due to the omega-3 fats in these fishes. Omega-3 fats are well-known for their positive effects on overall heart health. They also play an important role in reducing inflammation in arteries. [3]

Beans and Legume

Beans and legumes have natural blood pressure regulating components. Many studies have proven their effect on blood pressure. [4] So, make them a part of your high blood pressure diet.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits provide healthy nutrients like minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants to the body. These compounds can help reduce high blood pressure. Having lemon, grapefruit, and oranges can help you manage high blood pressure.

Certain Nuts

Pistachio has been shown to have a positive effect on blood pressure. It has important minerals like magnesium, which can reduce blood pressure if taken in an adequate amount. A review shows that people who consumed pistachio noticed a reduction in their systolic and diastolic blood pressure. [5]

Foods to Avoid

Salt

Salt is a part of most of our daily diet. Salt is the main cause of many heart diseases and high blood pressure. It disturbs the fluid balance in the blood and increases blood pressure. [6] So, lower the intake of foods that are rich in salt or mainly sodium. Check the list of ingredients of packaged foods (mostly rich in salt) before buying them.

Processed Foods Having Saturated Fats

Processed foods have different saturated fats. These fats increase the amount of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood which can eventually cause hypertension and have a negative impact on the normal function of the heart.

Canned Soups and Sauces

Canned soups and sauces like tomato sauce etc. have an unhealthy amount of salt in them. They may not affect the blood pressure of a healthy person but if you are a hypertensive person, your blood pressure may increase after their consumption. So, avoid them or use healthy alternatives.

Risk Factors for Hypertension

Family History

If your parents, siblings, or close blood relatives have hypertension, your chances of having it are higher.

Age

High blood pressure is more common in older people. There are many reasons for that. One of them is the reduction in the elasticity of arteries with age.

Diabetes

Diabetes increases sugar levels in the blood and can increase blood pressure as well. Statistics show that 6 out of 10 diabetic people usually have hypertension. [7]

Physical Activity for Hypertension

You do not have to join a gym to see the effect of physical activity on your blood pressure. Simple exercises that you can easily do at home are a great way of managing hypertension. It is important to do these exercises regularly. You should spend at least 150 minutes per week doing physical activity or exercise.

The following examples of exercises or activities

  • Walking briskly
  • Jogging
  • Climbing
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Doing household chores
  • Playing active sports (badminton, tennis, etc.)

Summary – Hypertension

Hypertension usually has no symptoms. You can control it with the help of certain medications, and healthy eating and increased physical activity.

 

 

Sources

  1. Harold on History | Historical Perspectives on Hypertension – American College of Cardiology (acc.org)
  2. Hypertension – (who.int)
  3. Role of Dietary Components in Modulating Hypertension (nih.gov)
  4. Effect of Dietary Pulses on Blood Pressure – (nih.gov)
  5. Effect of tree nut, peanut, and soy nut consumption on blood pressure | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Oxford Academic (oup.com)
  6. Dietary Sodium and Health: More Than Just Blood Pressure (nih.gov)
  7. Know Your Risk for High Blood Pressure | cdc.gov

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