How to prevent high blood pressure, delay its onset, or reduce its severity.
Many people with undiagnosed hypertension do not know something is wrong until the damage is done. Even small increases in blood pressure will increase your risk for a cardiovascular event. For every mm Hg increase in your blood pressure, your risk for a heart attack, a stroke, or kidney disease increases. Even a slight increase in blood pressure to 140/90 mm Hg will decrease your life by ten years!
Sadly, I have seen and met people who stopped taking blood pressure medication without consulting their doctors. When I ask why they stopped, most mention the side effects of fatigue, depression, and impotence. Sadly, in most cases, they end up with a stroke or death.
Maintaining control of your blood pressure is a lifetime commitment.
The following is a list of things you can start doing immediately to prevent high blood pressure, delay its onset, or reduce its severity.
- Maintain an ideal body weight, body fat, and visceral or belly fat for your gender and age. Come to DMMC for an advanced body composition analysis using Tanita machine.
- Exercise at least four days per week for 1 hour each day with both aerobic and resistance training.
- Get at least 8 hours of restful sleep per night.
- Reduce dietary sodium chloride (table salt or NaCl) to less than 2000 mg (2 g) per day. Salt contains approximately 40% of sodium. Consuming too much salt can raise blood pressure because salt (sodium chloride) increases blood pressure by causing the body to retain water. When you consume salt, your kidneys respond by holding onto more water to maintain the proper balance of fluids in the body. This increased water in the bloodstream causes blood volume to increase, putting extra pressure on the walls of your blood vessels.
The extra pressure on the blood vessels makes it harder for the heart to pump blood through the body, increasing blood force against the vessel walls. Over time, this extra force can cause damage to the blood vessels, leading to hypertension and increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. It also causes the vessels to constrict, raising the pressure further.
- Increase potassium in your diet to at least 5000 mg/day (5 g). Potassium helps to balance the effects of sodium in the body, which can contribute to high blood pressure. Potassium increases the amount of sodium excreted through urine, which helps lower blood pressure. Additionally, potassium helps ease tension in the blood vessel walls, lowering blood pressure. Potassium is also essential for muscle function, and relaxing the walls of the blood vessels helps reduce blood pressure and protect against muscle cramping. Eating foods rich in potassium can help reverse the imbalance between sodium and potassium, which can prevent or control high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other heart-related diseases.
- Increase magnesium in your diet to at least 1000 mg/day (1 g). Magnesium helps dilate and contract blood vessels, which affects blood pressure. Magnesium also regulates the balance of electrolytes, such as potassium and calcium in the body. These electrolytes regulate blood pressure, and a magnesium deficiency can disrupt the balance of electrolytes and lead to hypertension.
Magnesium also impacts the activity of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), a hormonal system that regulates blood pressure. Magnesium can inhibit the action of RAAS, which can help to lower blood pressure. Magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce stress levels, which can also contribute to hypertension. It is important to note that magnesium supplements should be taken under medical supervision, as excessive magnesium intake can cause adverse effects and interact with certain medications.
- Consume at least six servings of vegetables and six servings of fruit per day. (visit DMMC Nutritionist for consultation on this area)
- Reduce stress, meditate, lower anxiety, and relax.
- Stop all tobacco products.
- Stop taking any alcohol.
- Stop all sources of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause the blood vessels to constrict and increase the heart rate, both of which can raise blood pressure. Caffeine can also interfere with the effectiveness of hypertension medications and cause blood pressure to rise even higher. Caffeine can also increase heart rate, which can be dangerous for people with hypertension. Additionally, caffeine can cause dehydration which can contribute to hypertension.
People with complications MUST consult their doctors before implementing the above advice.