If our blood pressure readings are usually more than 140 over 90, then we will be said to have high blood pressure (also known as hypertension). High blood pressure increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke if it continues for an extended period of time (i.e., several weeks or more). It is also linked to kidney disease and associated with some forms of dementia. Fortunately, many of the factors that cause our blood pressure to rise are factors that we can control. Here are some of the main reasons for this condition: many of them may surprise you.
This is not something that we can alter: if we are genetically predisposed to have blood pressure higher than the average, there is currently no way to leap in and edit our genes. However, we can mitigate this genetic factor by leading a healthy lifestyle.
Smoking clogs up our arteries, meaning that our blood is compressed into a smaller space as it flows through them, thus raising our blood pressure. Cut out the cigarettes, and your blood pressure will fall.
Obesity (Or Simply Being Overweight)
When a person is very overweight, they tend to have fatty deposits in their blood vessels. This is similar to the deposits left as a result of smoking, causes our blood pressure readings to rise. This is not just something that clinically obese people have to deal with, though: even being slightly overweight can cause those fatty deposits to start building up.
Sufferers of sleep apnoea are also likely to have raised blood pressure. This is because sleep apnoea causes the oxygen levels in the blood to suddenly dip because the sufferer stops breathing properly and thus does not inhale enough oxygen. These drops in blood oxygen levels can cause, or exacerbate, hypertension.
If we exercise regularly, our blood pressure will usually be within a healthy range. Aim for five thirty minute sessions of moderate to strenuous exercise every single week.
As we age, our blood pressure tends to rise. This age-related hypertension can be avoided or mitigated by following a healthy lifestyle with plenty of physical activity, no smoking and low levels of alcohol consumption.
Drinking more than 1 or 2 units of alcohol a day can cause our blood pressure to rise dramatically. Try and have at least three alcohol-free days every week and to stay within the recommended limits for your sex.
Eating Lots of Salt
If you have a diet high in salt, you may also have raised blood pressure. Conversely, reducing the salt in your diet is an excellent way to alleviate hypertension. It is recommended that adults consume no more than 6g of salt every day (which gives us our recommended daily intake of 3.2g of sodium). Unfortunately, it is estimated that adults in the UK currently consume around 8g of salt per day. We do need some salt each day to keep our body healthy as we use sodium in many bodily processes. Nevertheless, cutting down our salt intake is very good for our cardiovascular health.