Three rules to help manage your high blood pressure


Walking, as well as swimming and cycling, are effective exercises to help combat high blood pressure and its many complications. — dpa

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a silent global epidemic affecting over 1.3 billion people worldwide, with nearly half unaware of their condition.

For those who do know they have high blood pressure, there are three steps you can take to keep your condition under control and reduce the risk of heart disease.

1. Exercise, avoid salt, don’t smoke

The usual advice to lead a healthy lifestyle now counts double if you want to avoid a heart attack, dementia, kidney failure and other health conditions that can be caused by neglected blood pressure.

That means plenty of exercise, a balanced diet, little salt and no smoking.

A healthy lifestyle will also help ensure that you need less medication to control your high blood pressure.

Endurance sports such as cycling, walking or swimming are best, ideally done at least three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes.

You can certainly challenge yourself, but it’s best to avoid overstraining your cardiovascular system.

If you’re going for a run, for example, try not to sprint to a level where you’re panting for breath.

2. Check your blood pressure regularly

If you have high blood pressure, you should measure your blood pressure regularly, e.g. once a week or every month.

You can determine the best way to do this by discussing the matter with your doctor.

When measuring at home, “high” values tend to be different than at the doctor’s office.

This is because many people are often already a bit agitated at the clinic, which causes blood pressure to rise.

So while a high value in the doctor’s practice is 140/90mmHg, it is 135/85mmHg at home.

Tracking your values in a journal or app is a good idea.

Even if you feel well as a high blood pressure patient, you should still have your values checked regularly by your doctor, e.g. every six months.

3. Don’t stop taking any prescriptions

Medication should be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

This means that even if you feel well, you should not reduce the dose – at least not without getting the green light from your doctor.

Anyone taking angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin-II-receptor antagonists (sartans) or diuretics should have their kidney function and potassium levels checked regularly.

This is because these medications used to treat high blood pressure can damage the kidneys.

Heart health experts advise checks once before starting therapy, four weeks afterwards, after three months, and then every six months. – dpa

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