IF you've got high blood pressure you might not even notice it – as the condition rarely has symptoms.
Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure but will have no idea they living with a serious health issue.
High blood pressure can be dangerous as it increases your risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.
Hypertension is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease and premature deaths. It affects more than a quarter of adults in England.
It is also responsible for 75,000 deaths a year and costs the NHS £2.1 billion a year to manage.
Your blood pressure is recorded in two numbers, one is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body, also known as systolic pressure – this is the higher number.
The second is the resistance to blood flow in the blood vessels, this is the lower number and is referred to as diastolic pressure.
Ideally your blood pressure reading would be around 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
The NHS states that if you have a reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg you could be at risk of developing high blood pressure.
But there are some things you can do to prevent high blood pressure.
1. Drink tea
While you might think sitting down with a cup of English breakfast tea, or a nice Earl Grey will help – experts say there is a certain type of tea that can help lower your blood pressure.
A recent study, published in the Pakistan Journal of Food Sciences found that regular consumption of garlic honey tea helped to reduce blood pressure levels.
The experts said: "Garlic and honey exhibits promising antihypertensive potential against high blood pressure.
"Garlic and honey are highly tolerated and may be considered as a complementary treatment option for hypertension."
2. Watch your salt
Around one in ten people in the UK know that their daily recommended salt intake is just a teaspoon, and one in 15 add it to their plate out of habit.
GP and LoSalt® adviser, and Season With Sense collaborator, Dr Sarah Jarvis said that reducing the amount of sodium in your diet is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of hypertension.
She explained: "Salt raises blood pressure and high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke – so it’s not surprising that the roadmap identifies a reduction of dietary sodium as a key factor for the prevention and management of hypertension.
“If salt intake fell by a third, it could prevent 8,000 premature deaths in the UK alone and save the NHS over £500 million annually.
"This would be a phenomenal result and one that can be achieved easily through simple lifestyle changes. We need to take responsibility of our own health by making small changes which can all add up."
3. Eat your veggies
Eating foods that are rich in potassium is important and can help hypertension as the potassium reduces the effect that salt has on your body.
The experts at Delamere Health recommend foods like cooked spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, peas, tomatoes, avocados, edamame, watermelon and dried fruits are all packed with potassium.
"It’s recommended to eat 3,500 mg of potassium a day, as the more you consume, the more sodium you lose through urine. Potassium consumption helps to ease the tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps to further reduce high blood pressure", they added.
What are the symptoms of hypertension?
High blood pressure can present a serious risk of heart attacks and strokes if left untreated.
Most people won't have symptoms but some people may experience severe headaches, fatigue or confusion, vision problems and chest pains.
Sufferers of high blood pressure could also experience difficulty breathing, an irregular heartbeat, blood in the urine and pounding in the chest, neck, or ears.
If you feel any of these symptoms, it's best to get it checked with your GP.
What causes it?
The risk of hypertension is greater if you are over 65-years-old, are overweight, exercise rarely, and have a history of high blood pressure in the family.
If you can't reduce it by natural methods, your doctor can then prescribe you medication.
Activating your relaxation response will help you lower your blood pressure levels.
Experts at Delamere Health said that long-term stress can increase your blood pressure.
They explained: "When we are stressed, our bodies release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, these can raise your heart rate and constrict blood vessels, causing your blood pressure to spike.
"Exercise, healthy eating, reducing alcohol and caffeine intake, starting yoga, meditation or deep breathing, and listening to music can all help to reduce your stress levels and keep your blood pressure in check."
5. Human connections
During the Covid pandemic many of us were unable to hug our loved ones and it left many people feeling isolated.
Close physical contact, such as hugging and hand-holding or kissing, can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, the experts say.
Research from the University of North Carolina revealed that hugs reduce blood pressure, one of the main risk factors of heart disease.
It found that participants who received a hug from their partners had lower blood pressure and heart rates during stressful sections of the testing.
Laughing can also help lower your blood pressure.
Research showed that individuals who participated in laughing therapy lowered their blood pressure reading by 7 mmHg, according to research from the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions.
6. Get physical
Not getting enough exercise can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
It is recommended that you spend at least 150 minutes per week exercising to lower blood pressure, improve overall cardiovascular health and make your heart stronger.
The expert said: "Exercise lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart by reducing blood vessel stiffness so blood can flow more easily.
"But you don’t need to endure a heavy gym session or long run to reap the benefits, you just need to be active enough that you're breathing harder and making your heart beat a little faster.
"That includes a brisk walk, jogging, swimming, cycling or lifting weights.
"Horticulture is another great way to stay active, as activities such as raking, weeding and trimming engage multiple muscle groups, which improve your overall fitness level. In fact, being out in the garden for just 30-45 minutes can burn up to 300 calories."
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