High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in the arteries as it is pumped around the body by the heart. Blood pressure is shown as systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP).

High blood pressure or hypertension is a condition where the blood pressure is higher than normal. If not controlled, hypertension can lead to complications such as heart attack or stroke, heart failure, metabolic syndrome, and dementia.

High blood pressure usually does not have any symptoms, so it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor.

Risk factors

  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Elevated blood lipids
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • High sodium consumption

In most cases (90-95%) hypertension does not have a clear etiology and are classified as primary hypertension, so there is no treatment for that but we can control the HTN by lifestyle modification and medication. Usually, diet and lifestyle modifications are the initial approach to hypertension management, which may reduce the drug’s dosage or delay the need for drugs

Factors affecting blood pressure

  • Obesity

Obesity and adipose tissue can affect some hormonal changes and also increase insulin resistance which can lead to hypertension. The effect of weight loss in reducing blood pressure is proven (5-20mmHg reduction in blood pressure for 10kg weight loss).

  • Salt

A high salt diet disrupts the sodium balance in the body and causes fluid retention, which increases the pressure against blood vessel walls of the blood. The National Heart Foundation recommends that Australians reduce their intake to less than 6 g of salt a day (approximately 100 mmol of sodium or 2300 Milligrams of sodium).

Sources of salt in our diet

Around 75 per cent of the salt in our diet comes from processed foods, which means we may be unaware of the amount of salt we are having.

Processed foods which are high in sodium include:

  • Most commercial baked products and breads
  •  Canned products, fruits, beans, fish
  •  Processed meat, sausage, bacon, salami, ham, smoked fish
  •  Salted nuts
  •  Salted spread
  •  Crackers, chips
  •  Olives and pickles

It is better to buy fresh food instead of processed foods. If you need to buy processed food, food label reading should be part of shopping. Choose products less than 120mg Na/100g whenever possible, always choose low salt, look for ‘reduced salt’, ‘unsalted’ when purchased.

  • Potassium

Increasing potassium intake lowers blood pressure and lessens the effects of sodium. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine, which helps reduce high blood pressure. Increase fruit and vegetable intake as a good source of potassium.

  • Alcohol

Alcohol can affect the blood pressure regulating and cause a rise in blood pressure.

Limit alcohol consumption to 2 drinks (men); 1 drinks (women)

  • Regular exercise,

Exercise improves blood flow, help reduce body fat and can improve hypertension.

Ideally, it is recommended to have exercise for at least 30 minutes/day for most days, at least 5 days/week..