Managing Hypertension with The Right Lifestyle

Understanding Hypertension

In matters of health, the term hypertension may come up more often than not in the modern age. Otherwise known as high blood pressure, this condition is pervasive in many different age groups. Usually asymptomatic, it would be a huge mistake to ignore the damage it can cause.

Hypertension may damage various organs over time, such as the heart, and can be a long-term condition that can be fatal in some cases.

Anyone with the condition also stands a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease and stroke. If left untreated, the likelihood of heart failure and renal failure raises as well.

The Facts

Blood pressure, or the pressure at which blood is pushing against the inner blood vessel walls, can be a good indicator of general health. Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, and can increase when we are moving, agitated, active, or in heightened emotional states.

The two different blood pressures we need to be aware of are:

  • Systolic BP – Pressure in your arteries where your heart beats
  • Diastolic BP – Pressure in your arteries where your heart relaxes between contractions
  Blood Pressure Level (mmHg)
Category Systolic Diastolic
Normal < 130 < 80
High – Normal 130 – 139 80 – 89
Grade 1 Hypertension 140 – 159 90 – 99
Grade 2 Hypertension 160 100
Isolated Systolic Hypertension* 140 < 90

*Isolated systolic hypertension is graded according to the same level of systolic BP

In Singapore, 1 in 4 adults aged 25 years or older suffered from hypertension back in 2010.

More than 60% risk of death from cardiovascular disease in Singapore is also attributed to high blood pressure. Having the necessary knowledge can be lifesaving in the long run.

Factors Affecting Hypertension

There can be many different factors that can contribute to higher blood pressure. High salt intake can lead to increased body water retention and increases blood volume. Fatty substances can cause blood vessels to be more rigid due to atherosclerosis, which is not good for blood pressure either. As such, obesity, alcohol consumption, and smoking can increase the chances of hypertension.

Older adults are at higher risk of the condition, while about 10% of patients with hypertension suffered from kidney diseases or hormonal disorders first. Those with kidney disease or diabetes will also have to maintain blood pressure at 120/80mmHg as high blood pressure will increase the risk of developing complications.

Managing Hypertension

As much as possible, we want to reduce the risks of developing hypertension, thankfully, there are several ways in which we can do this:

  • Maintaining a healthy BMI between 18.5 and 22.9
    • Reduces risk of high blood pressure
  • Avoid foods high in cholesterol and saturated fats – animal fats, whole milk products, eggs, red meat, coconut milk, palm oil
    • Choose lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy products
    • Increase fruit and vegetable intake
    • Reduce salt intake
  • Exercise regularly
    • At least 3 times a week
    • Check with the doctor for suitable physical activities
  • Reduce or quit smoking
  • Reduce stress
  • Measure blood pressure at least once a year
    • Can be measured with a digital blood pressure device at home
    • Results are more comparable if measured at the same time every day under resting conditions (2 to 3 readings)
  • Drug treatment (anti-hypertensive medications) may be needed if lifestyle measures are insufficient to reduce high blood pressure

It Is Never Too Late

For those suffering from hypertension, as well as those at risk or worried about their long-term health, it is never too late to start making changes. Understanding the condition, the risks, and the solutions is a great way of ensuring you live your life healthily and keep the dangers of high blood pressure at bay!

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