High blood pressure, or hypertension, isn’t something you want to take lightly. Not only does it rarely show symptoms, but it can also quickly spiral into an array of devastating complications. If you have high blood pressure, it is important to get it treated early. The higher your blood pressure, the more vulnerable you are to other health problems and complications.
The Effects of High Blood Pressure
What can high blood pressure cause?
Is It True That High Blood Pressure Causes Headaches?
It is widely suggested that high blood pressure doesn’t necessarily cause a headache unless you’re dealing with a hypertensive crisis. This happens when your blood pressure reaches extremely high levels that causes pressure in your cranium. Often, the headache that follows feels like a migraine, but traditional headache medication cannot reduce the pain.
High Blood Pressure Causes Heart Attack
If your high blood pressure is left uncontrolled for a long period of time, it can result in complications like a heart attack. This is because the high blood pressure can cause the arteries to harden and thicken.
High Blood Pressure Causes Stroke
Apart from causing a heart attack, uncontrolled high blood pressure can also lead to a stroke. It may cause blood clots to develop in the arteries that lead to your brain, therefore cutting off blood flow and causing a stroke to happen.
1. Have Good Sleep
When you sleep, your blood pressure drops, and when you don’t sleep, it can affect your blood pressure. Sleep deprivation, especially in middle-aged individuals, leads to a greater risk of high blood pressure. It can also worsen existing high blood pressure. Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily for optimal sleep and bodily function. If you’re clocking in less sleep, like 5 hours a day, then you should know why your eyelids keep slipping shut at work. Apart from getting enough sleep daily at night, it is also important to have quality sleep.
Make sure that you get sufficient and high-quality sleep during bedtime. Consider taking measures, like a regular sleep schedule, avoiding blue light before bedtime, and using essential oils for better sleep.
2. Stop Smoking
It’s not easy to kick the habit but eliminating smoking from your lifestyle gives you so many benefits. When you smoke, it causes a sudden hike in your blood pressure and heart rate, even if temporary. Over the long term, the chemicals present inside tobacco increase your blood pressure. They harm the walls of your blood vessels, give rise to inflammation, and cause your arteries to constrict. As a result, the hardened arteries cause higher blood pressure. This applies even to secondhand smoke.
3. Lose Weight
If you are, losing 2 to 5kg can cut your blood pressure while reducing your risk of other potential health issues. Blood pressure tends to increase in tandem with weight increases. When you’re overweight, it puts you at risk of other problems like sleep apnea, which can increase your blood pressure further. You should also track your waistline because having excess weight around your waist also heightens your risk of high blood pressure.
4. Eat More Potassium
There are plenty of benefits to eating potassium-rich foods. It reduces the effects of salt in your body while lowering tension in your blood vessels. However, these foods may be damaging to those with kidney disease, so make sure to consult your doctor before making any changes.
Here are some foods high in potassium:
Dried fruits (apricots, raisins)
Spinach and broccoli
5. Eat Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has the ability to reduce blood pressure, but not any kind works. You need to eat dark chocolate that is 60 – 70% cacao, preferably 1 to 2 squares daily. The benefits are attributed to flavonoids in chocolate that have more cocoa solids that help to expand blood vessels. Dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure and inflammation, lowering heart disease as a result.
6. Eat Healthy Foods Rich in Protein
Eating more protein may reduce your risk of high blood pressure. Add in fiber to the mix and cut your risk even further. However, note that a protein-rich diet may not be suitable for everyone. For example, if you have kidney disease, you may need to exercise caution or speak to your doctor for professional advice.
These are some high-protein foods:
Lean meat (pork, veal, lamb, beef)
Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese)
Seafood (fish, clams, mussels, crabs, prawns, crayfish, lobster)
Poultry (chicken, duck, turkey)
Beans and legumes (lentils, kidney beans)
7. Drink Less Alcohol
Alcohol can increase your blood pressure even if you’re perfectly healthy. It’s okay to consume alcohol as long as you do so in moderation within recommended limits. Men should drink no more than 2 glasses of alcohol a day, and 1 for women.
8. Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine has a temporary blood pressure raising effect. Caffeine reduces the size of your blood vessels, raising blood pressure as a result. Some people may be more sensitive to caffeine, and if you’re one of them, it may be ideal to reduce your coffee consumption or drink decaffeinated coffee instead. It is normal to experience elevated blood pressure levels for around 3 to 4 hours before stabilizing after drinking a cup of coffee.
9. Incorporate the DASH Diet Meal Plan
This diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, originated in 1997. Its main aim is to help reduce and treat high blood pressure using a healthy diet that is rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium. It also limits foods that are high in salt (1,500-2,300mg per day), added sugar (<5 servings weekly), and saturated fat and oils (1-3 teaspoons daily).
It is mainly based on a diet rich in:
Low-fat or fat-free dairy
It was designed to provide huge amounts of important nutrients that are expected to have a role in reducing blood pressure based on past studies.
10. Keep Track of Your Blood Pressure at Home
Monitoring your blood pressure is important to keep track of your health. It indicates whether your lifestyle and/or diet changes are working or not and provides health warning alerts to potential problems.