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When it comes to diseases and ailments, it can be hard to pinpoint an exact cause. Many illnesses, whether minor and short-term or major and chronic, could be related to your lifestyle, genetics or the environment and circumstances you live in. This is especially true for high blood pressure (or hypertension). Often, there are few warning signs and patients get diagnosed only after alarm bells of serious symptoms start ringing. Those who are more fortunate may be surprised to find out that they have high blood pressure after a routine check-up or doctor’s visit for an unrelated ailment. It’s one of those conditions that can sneak up on you - bringing along with it costly medical treatments.
The importance of being prepared
High blood pressure is a perfect example of why you should always have good health insurance for yourself and your family. High blood pressure may have no warning signs yet the consequences can be deadly. And it is estimated that one in three individuals who have high blood pressure are unaware of their condition. It’s imperative then that, in case of hospitalization is required, patients receive all the care they need without having to worry about the expense. By paying an affordable insurance premium, you are assured timely medical care without the huge financial burden of hospital bills should a medical episode occur.
Why is high blood pressure dangerous?
It can put a strain on your blood vessels and organs, increasing the risk of serious health conditions including heart disease, strokes and kidney disease. This is why regular health checkups and being covered by health insurance are crucial to identifying and treating conditions with few or no symptoms such as hypertension.
Should you be concerned about high blood pressure?
There are a range of factors that can raise your risks of having high blood pressure. Some may be in your control and can be curbed with lifestyle changes - being overweight, drinking excess alcohol or caffeine, being a smoker, not exercising enough, getting too little sleep and eating too much salt. Other factors are age-related or hereditary - those above the age of 65, having African or Caribbean ancestry and having someone in your family who has it.
If any of these apply to you, it might be worth getting your blood pressure checked. You can do this at your family doctor or even by using a home blood pressure monitor.
What can I do to help maintain healthy blood pressure?
If you do have high blood pressure or you are at risk of developing it, there’s plenty you can do toward better health, which we cover below. Unfortunately, even the most dedicated health and fitness enthusiasts can be affected by illness so it is also wise to make sure you and your family are covered by a good health insurance plan. Here’s more on how to keep your blood pressure reading numbers from climbing:
Shed excess weight
Your blood pressure and weight are often correlated - which means more weight will likely result in higher blood pressure. A higher amount of belly fat is also an indicator of high blood pressure risk. If you are overweight, losing those extra kilos and keeping your waistline trim is one of the best ways to help keep your blood pressure in check.
Make time for exercise
Just half an hour of activity everyday can help lower your blood pressure if you suffer from hypertension. Consistency is key when it comes to the benefits of physical activity. Get up and get moving - try walking, running, cycling or swimming. Gym-goers can benefit from high-intensity interval training or weight lifting. Check with your doctor before beginning any new regime.
Watch what you eat
The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a great way to help reduce hypertension. It encourages eating whole grains, vegetables and fruit, with the inclusion of dairy too, which has to be low fat. Eating home-cooked vegetarian meals - an Indian staple - can do wonders for your health. Just go easy on the ghee and maida! The DASH diet recommends avoiding foods that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol.
Cut down on salt
Restaurant meals, packaged foods and takeaways contain tons of sodium to make it tasty and it gets our taste buds used to this high salt content. Eating home cooked meals can help you monitor your salt consumption. Cutting down on salt can help reduce blood pressure so keep your intake at under 1,500 mg a day to see improvements.
Keep a check on the alcohol
Drinking moderately can actually help lower your blood pressure! But keep it to one drink (for women) or two drinks (for men) a day or you risk actually upping your blood pressure. If you are under medication for your blood pressure, it may be wise to avoid alcohol as it can interfere with the effectiveness of the medicines. Again, speak to your doctor about ideal consumption.
Kick the habit
The act of smoking increases your blood pressure during and after you consume a cigarette. Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to reward your body and reduce it from a range of risks - from heart disease to cancer.
Curb your caffeine
Though it hasn't been proven, caffeine is thought to raise blood pressure in some people - especially those who don’t ingest it often. To be on the safe side, cut down the number of coffees you have or switch to decaf.
Try to relax
The Covid-19 pandemic has us all a bit tightly wound up. There is the worry of ourselves or our loved ones getting ill. Investing in good health insurance is a great way to take a weight off your shoulders when it comes to stressing about paying medical bills in case you or your family members need professional care. The pressures of working from home, uncertainty over jobs and income and the general restrictions and massive adjustments to everyday life can also be hard to handle and affect our health. It’s not easy, but identifying stress triggers and trying to improve your outlook through things like positive thinking, enjoyable activities and exercise can help improve your overall mental and physical health.
If you have hypertension, investing in a blood pressure monitor can help you keep a regular check on your blood pressure and see how changes to your lifestyle help your readings. It’s also great in times like these, when you may not want to go to the doctor’s clinic unless necessary. Checking your blood pressure at home (ask your doctor about how to monitor yourself) can give you an indication of whether you need medical attention if you are feeling uneasy or unwell.