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Modifications in diet and lifestyle can help control blood pressure, says Dr RK Jaswal

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Mohali, May 17, 2023: Hypertension, also known as the silent killer, is one of the commonest health ailments and affects several people across the world. It is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and can cause stroke, heart attack, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, kidney failure and peripheral arterial disease etc. To spread awareness on the disease and its associated health complications, World Hypertension Day is observed on the 17th of May every year.

Dr RK Jaswal, Head of Department and Director of Cardiology and Director – Cathlabs, Fortis Hospital Mohali, in an advisory explains the ways to prevent, detect and control hypertension.

Why is hypertension worrying?
Hypertension is blood pressure that is higher than normal i.e. blood pressure above 140/90, while pressure above 180/110 is termed as severe hypertension. This causes irregular heartbeat, acute chest pain, and can cause a heart attack.

Causes
Dr Jaswal said hypertension is primarily caused due to genetic predisposition and unhealthy lifestyle like overeating, high consumption of salt and high fat intake, smoking and weight gain. “Sedentary lifestyle or overconsumption of alcohol can cause a rise in blood pressure. Further, kidney ailments, diabetes etc. also contribute to the health condition,” he added.

Prevent the silent killer
Discussing the non-pharmacological strategies to manage blood pressure, Dr Jaswal, said, “Diet modification, salt restriction, weight reduction, smoking cessation, physical activity, alcohol restriction, stress management and yoga, and minimizing air pollution can go a long way in controlling blood pressure.”

· Salt restriction: Consumption of foods like pickles, papad, packed namkeen, chips, chutney, ready-made soups, canned food, pizzas, and preparations containing baking powder should be minimized as the total intake of salt in a day should not exceed 5 gms.

Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages should be discouraged.

· Body weight reduction: “Weight reduction of 5.1 kg is associated with a fall in systolic BP of 4.4 mm Hg and diastolic BP of 3.6 mm Hg,” added Dr Jaswal.

· Smoking cessation: Individuals with high BP should be counselled regarding cessation of smoking and use of tobacco-related products. “Use of e-cigarettes should also be stopped as passive smoking is also harmful. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), chewing gum, lozenges, varenicline tartrate and bupropion hydrochloride also help in quitting the habit,” added Dr Jaswal.

· Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity for 5-7 days per week is recommended. “This can include mowing lawns, gardening, scrubbing the floor, active sports like tennis or basketball, climbing stairs, walking, jogging, cycling, swimming and dancing,” said Dr Jaswal. Even dynamic as well as isometric resistance exercises have also been found to be beneficial. Therefore, combined training is recommended.

· Alcohol restriction: Continued use of alcohol causes sustained rise in BP and body weight. Binge drinking is associated with chronic high BP.

· Stress management & yoga: Yoga, meditation, listening to devotional and classical music, laughing, sharing one’s thoughts and stresses with one’s spouse, friends, and family members helps in stress management and this helps control the

· Air pollution: Also contributes too hypertension therefore serious efforts on part of society to avoid air pollution should be implemented.

Blood pressure can be treated without medicines by following a strict diet and exercise routine. Eat less, eat right, eat on time, walk a lot, sleep well and be happy.

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