The 3 free & simple hacks to slash risk of high blood pressure – without moving
AS many as half of all British adults have high blood pressure, yet many are completely unaware they have it.
So it’s little wonder this very common medical condition – also known as hypertension – is dubbed “the silent killer”.
Left untreated, it raises the risk of potentially fatal heart attacks and strokes and can also cause severe damage to the kidneys.
This is because having high blood pressure (the pressure of blood in your arteries) puts more pressure on the heart by making it pump harder.
The condition can be well managed with drugs, but the best option is to make lifestyle changes before resorting to blood pressure medications.
Luckily, a group of hypertension experts from 18 different countries have put together a list of simple ways to bring blood pressure down – many of which are free and don’t require you to lift a finger.
The findings, published in a wide-reaching review in the Journal of Hypertension, are based of previous studies.
Some free and easy recommendations include:
1. Reduce your stress levels
Stress alone won’t cause a heart and circulatory disease.
But, according to the British Heart Foundation, stress is linked to unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol, sleeping less and eating more, which in turn can increase your risk.
The experts recommend trying to reduce stress levels by listening to calming music and meditating.
2. Stay indoors when pollution is high
Air pollution has been strongly linked to increased blood pressure – even in teenagers.
Several studies have found dirty air damages blood vessels by making them narrower and harder which increases blood pressure because your heart is pumping faster to move the blood that can’t flow properly.
When pollution levels are high, the researchers said people should avoid parks and open spaces where possible and away from busy roads
To find out the air pollution forecast in your area, check out the UK AIR website. It rates air pollution risk by marking areas of the country in different colours, which represent different rates of pollution.
3. Don’t sit down for too long
It is thought excessive sitting increases blood pressure for two reasons.
Firstly, being sat for long periods of time can slow down the metabolism by encouraging weight gain.
And being overweight or obese can increase the resistance in the blood vessels, making it more difficult for blood to flow freely, which leads to higher blood pressure, according to the NHS.
Studies have also shown that while sitting down, a person’s blood pressure is generally higher than when standing.
When sitting for long periods of time become habitual, the risk of hypertension is increased.
Low cost suggestions include:
- Drink hibiscus, pomegranate juice and beetroot juice
- Eat more foods high in potassium, such as bananas
- Increase consumption of vegetables, fresh fruits, fish, nuts, unsaturated fatty acids, low-fat dairy products
- Eat more plant based foods and less red meat
- Get at least seven hours of sleep per night.
Professor Bryan Williams from University College London said: “It all sounds like it is a bit soft and fluffy and not as dynamic, for example, as taking drugs, but these things make such an important contribution to reducing the effects of stress on the cardiovascular system and the evidence is accumulating.”
He added: “There’s so much people can do for themselves.
“All of us need to take a step back and say, actually, I should be able to find half an hour in my day to have a little bit of time to myself and decompress and just relax – whether it’s listening to music, going for a walk or going to the gym and doing some exercise.”
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