Beat high blood pressure
Find out simple ways to lower your blood pressure and know your numbers well.
It’s the silent killer. High blood pressure usually has no warning signs but simple steps can cut your risk of devastating health problems, shared financial services company Manulife and the World Heart Federation during World Hypertension Day.
In Singapore, about 14 percent of adults have elevated blood pressure. Hypertension is one of the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke – the world’s leading causes of death – but many people do not realise their blood pressure is high. In Asia, home to half of the world’s population, the prevalence of elevated blood pressure ranges from highs of about 31 percent in Mongolia, 27 percent in Nepal, 25 percent in India and 24 percent in Cambodia to lows of 11 percent in South Korea, 15 percent in Australia and 17 percent in Japan.
In China, more than 19 percent of adults have elevated blood pressure, with Indonesia at nearly 24 percent, Vietnam above 23 percent, the Philippines at nearly 23 percent and Thailand above 22 percent. These rates compare with about 13 percent in the US and Canada, and about 15 percent in the UK.
“See your doctor to get your blood pressure checked,” said Dr David Wood, president of the World Heart Federation. “It’s quick and painless but it could save your life because high blood pressure can be treated and prevented – often by making a few changes to your diet, activity levels and unhealthy habits.”
Various factors contribute to the risk but high blood pressure does not ignore people based on age, affluence, gender or geography. Globally, about one in four adults has hypertension and it’s expected to affect more than 1.5 billion people by 2025, according to “The Lancet” medical journal.
Here are some ways to lower your blood pressure:
- Stay active: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week. Walk, dance, swim, do housework or play a sport – they all count!
- Eat well: Cut down on salt, sugar, fat and processed foods. Eat at least five portions (handfuls) of fruit and vegetables every day. If you drink alcohol, reduce the amount.
- Stop smoking: Quitting tobacco is the single best thing you can do to improve your heart health.
- Control your weight: Being overweight or obese raises your risk of high blood pressure.
The costs of ignoring hypertension are not just personal. Hospital treatment, medication and lost work hours all add to the burdens on the economy and society.
Know your numbers
Two measurements assess blood pressure – systolic (maximum) and diastolic (minimum) – often expressed as maximum/minimum.
Blood pressure categories are:
Normal: Maximum less than 120 and minimum less than 80.
Prehypertension:Maximum 120 to 139 or minimum 80 to 89.
High: Maximum over 140 or minimum more than 90.
Emergency: Maximum above 180 or minimum above 110 requires immediate medical attention.