Do you know your numbers? Not your weight or waist measurement, but your blood pressure! Knowing your blood pressure is essential to the health of your heart and overall health as well.
More than 30 per cent of Aussie adults suffer from high blood pressure1 but many don’t even know it. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the inside of your arteries. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when
that force increases and stays higher than normal for an extended period. High blood pressure may cause damage to your blood vessels, heart, brain, and it’s linked to 70 per cent of heart attacks, strokes, and chronic heart failure
Medications are often used to control blood pressure but there are many natural ways to help you achieve this.
1) Know Your Numbers.Get your blood pressure checked by your healthcare practitioner and try to stay below 140/90, depending on your weight and height. Hypertension usually does not produce any symptoms, because the organs of the body can resist high blood pressure for a long time. That’s why it’s important to have regular medical examinations to make sure your blood pressure isn’t creeping up as you grow older. Your doctor will be able to recommend a blood pressure target for you.
2) Less sodium, more potassium. You’ve probably heard that salt and high blood pressure don’t mix. If you have high blood pressure, the National Heart Foundation recommends reducing salt to 4g (1600mg sodium) per day, which is about half the average Australian adult’s current salt intake! Most of our sodium comes from processed foods, so stick with whole foods where possible. On the flipside, eating potassium-rich foods can counter sodium’s ill effects. Opt for foods such as bananas, sweet potatoes, baked potatoes with the skin on, tomatoes, and orange juice.
3) Go Mediterranean or Vegetarian. The Mediterranean-style diet is associated with better heart health – lots
of garlic, vegetables, olive oil and moderate amounts of lean protein. Research shows a vegetarian diet is associated with a blood pressure that’s lower than adults who consume a diet including meat. It is also advisable to lower your alcohol intake to no more than two standard alcoholic drinks on any day.
4) Control Your Weight. Excess weight can take a toll on your heart. Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Strive for a body mass index under 25. The good news is losing even a few kilos can lower blood pressure. Aim for 30minutes of moderate intensity exercise five days a week.
5) Move more, stress less! Among other things, chronic stress is a significant contributor to high blood pressure, so it’s worth taking time to think about what causes you to feel stressed and considering how you can eliminate or reduce that stress. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days. Aim for moderate intensity exercise by going to the gym or swimming, cycling or even walking the kids to school – it all adds up! Make time for relaxation too; just 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly and breathe deeply can really make a difference as it can help reduce stress hormones.
6) Consider an Aged Garlic Extract. A recent Australian study found that Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract may reduce blood pressure in some adults with uncontrolled hypertension. The study showed that a daily dose was enough to significantly lower the risk of heart disease in these individuals, so this could be an option to discuss with your doctor. Note: Never change your medication without your doctors advice, always read the label. If symptoms persist consult your
DR JASON KAPLAN, BSC (MED) MBBS (HONS) FRACP FCSANZ
Dr Jason Kaplan is a specialist adult cardiologist and physician. Dr Kaplan studied Medicine at UNSW and graduated with Honours in 1999 then completed his Internal Medicine Training at St George and Prince of Wales hospitals and Adult Cardiology training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. To find out more visit www.drjasonkaplan.com