Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a very common risk factor for cardiovascular disease with an estimated prevalence of 30-45% in the general population, and an even greater prevalence in older adults.
Have you been diagnosed with hypertension?
Do you want to know how to prevent or manage hypertension?
This blog outlines what hypertension is and what you can do to manage it.
Hypertension affects millions of people worldwide and is often referred to as the “silent killer” as it is usually asymptomatic and undetected. If left untreated, hypertension can lead to serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems.
What is Hypertension?
In simple terms, hypertension refers to elevated blood pressure levels. Blood pressure is the force exerted by blood against the walls of blood vessels through which it flows. It is measured using two numbers: systolic pressure (the higher number) – the pressure exerted by the heart when it is contracted (systole); and diastolic pressure (the lower number) – the pressure exerted by the heart when it is relaxed (diastole).
What can I do manage hypertension?
- Medication – Take blood pressure lowering medication as prescribed. The 2018 European Society of Cardiology guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension advocate the use of antihypertensive therapy in patients with high-risk (organ damage, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or chronic kidney disease) grade 1 hypertension, grade 2, and grade 3 hypertension.
- Lifestyle changes – These are fundamental to the prevention and management of hypertension and drug therapy should be initiated in addition to lifestyle changes, which themselves are equivalent to drug monotherapy and may prevent you requiring higher doses of antihypertensives.
The recommended lifestyle measures which lower BP include the following:
✓ Salt restriction to less than 5g per day;
✓ Moderation of alcohol consumption to no more than 20-30g of alcohol per day in men and 10-20g per day in women;
✓ Increased consumption of fruit, vegetables, fibre, whole grains, plant proteins and low-fat dairy products;
✓ Consumption of fish at least twice a week;
✓ Reducing body weight to achieve a BMI of 25 kg/m2 and a waist circumference of
<102 cm in men and <88 cm in women;
✓ At least 30 minutes of moderate intensity dynamic exercise on 5-7 days of the week;
✓ Smoking cessation;
✓ Avoidance of sleep deprivation;
✓ There is no firm recommendation to minimise coffee consumption based on the available evidence.
How do I check my blood pressure?
If you have your own blood pressure monitoring device at home you should follow this video to ensure you are getting an accurate reading:
If you are concerned about high blood pressure, we can support you to ensure it is optimally managed with:
- individually prescribed exercise programmes
- regular blood pressure recordings throughout your programme, before and after each session
- 24-hour blood pressure monitoring (the results of which can be sent to your GP or cardiologist for review), if required.
Written by James Murray, Cardiac Physiotherapist.