High blood pressure is an abnormal rise in blood pressure on the artery walls. This chronic disease, which affects nearly 20% of the population, can have serious consequences for health (increased risk of stroke and myocardial infarction in particular). It can be treated: the treatment is not curative strictly speaking but it keeps the tension “in the normal”. This care also involves following some rules of hygiene.
- Measure your blood pressure
- Antihypertensive treatment
- Diet in case of hypertension
- General tips for healthy living
WHEN TO TALK ABOUT HYPERTENSION:
People with hypertension should regularly check their blood pressure . The measurement is made with a blood pressure monitor (available in pharmacies) which indicates two values. These two figures correspond to:
- At systolic pressure: Pressure in the arteries measured at the time of contraction of the heart (systole); it is the maximum pressure.
- At the diastolic pressure: pressure in the arteries measured between two contractions, at the moment when the heart expands (diastole); it is the minimum pressure.
We talk about high blood pressure:
If the systolic pressure is greater than 14 cmHg (centimeters of mercury) or 140 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).
If the diastolic pression is greater than 9 cmHg or 90 mmHg .
HOW TO MEASURE BLOOD PRESSURE
- The measurements must be performed in a calm manner . Sit down for a few minutes before taking the measurement.
- Place the arm, relaxed, in front of you , on a table for example. The elbow must be at the level of the heart.
- Place the cuff directly on the skin (by clothing between the skin and the cuff) according to the direction indicated on the blood pressure monitor.
- Start the measurement : the cuff inflates and deflates.
- If the measurement has been correctly performed, the monitor will show you two digits: your systolic pressure and your diastolic pressure. Check the unit of measurement used by your blood pressure monitor (usually in mmHg).
- Write these values in a notebook that you can show to your doctor during a check-up.
No need to control your blood pressure every day. However, it is recommended to carry out more frequent measurements before a check-in appointment, according to the “rule of 3”: 3 measurements at a few minutes intervals, 3 times a day (morning, noon and evening), during 3 days before the appointment . The first measurements of the day must be made before taking the treatment. These values will allow your doctor to know if the treatment he prescribes is suitable or not.
Apart from these conditions, it is also advisable to measure your tension after a particularly important physical effort, a strong emotion or a stress. If the measurements exceed 14/9 cmHg or 140/90 mmHg, contact your doctor for advice and possibly make an appointment.
In addition to lifestyle and dietary measures, medication may be prescribed to control your high blood pressure. These drugs can act on several levels:
- On hormones that regulate blood pressure ( angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and receptor antagonists to angiotensin II (ARB)
- On the flexibility of arteries ( calcium channel blockers )
- On the elimination of excess salt and water from the body ( thiazide diuretics )
- On heart rate and blood pressure directly ( beta-blockers )
Treatments for high blood pressure should be taken throughout life and on a regular basis. This is all the more important as hypertension is a silent evil: patients who suffer from it do not always feel the symptoms.
Adherence to treatment remains essential to ensure its effectiveness. To facilitate this compliance, take your treatment at a fixed time each day, so that it becomes a ritual and do not forget it.
If you have forgotten to take your treatment, do not double the dose when you take the next dose! Always observe the prescribed doses.
Diet in case of hypertension:
The priority for high blood pressure is to limit salt intake . The daily recommendations of the WHO are to limit consumption to 5 g per day, a teaspoon. Contrary to popular belief, the complete elimination of salt from the diet is not essential for all hypertensive patients. The salt-free diet can cause dehydration, it must be followed medically before starting. Your doctor will be able to advise you which diet is best for you.
Other general dietary advice also applies in cases of hypertension:
- Consume 5 fruits and vegetables a day
- Consume complete seeds
- Favor lean meats
- Limit fats , especially saturated fats
- Consume foods high in potassium ( see the foods richest in potassium )
- Drink regularly, between 1.5 and 2 liters of water a day
In general, it is better to maintain a “healthy weight”, a BMI between 18.5 and 25. Overweight can indeed be a cause of elevation of blood pressure.
General tips for healthy living:
Physical activity is essential when you have high blood pressure. Adults should have moderate physical activity of at least 30 minutes a day . If you want to get into intense physical activity and are not used to it, start your exercise sessions slowly before gradually increasing the intensity. For endurance sports, it is advisable to keep a pace that allows you to keep talking. If you are too breathless to speak, this is a sign that you have to reduce the pace!
On a daily basis, try to follow these few tips that will help you maintain your blood pressure in the standard:
- Do not smoke : smoking damages the vessels and increases the stiffness of the arteries, thus promoting hypertension
- Limit the consumption of alcohol
- Prevent other health problems such as diabetes (according to WHO, nearly 60% of people with diabetes also have high blood pressure)
- Reduce and manage stress by limiting anxiogenic factors, practicing meditation , yoga , etc.
- Pay attention to your sleep with restful nights of 7 to 8 hours and regular sunrise and sunset times.
High blood pressure can not be cured but it can be very well controlled provided you follow these tips. The disease is then balanced and patients can live perfectly normally. Regular medical checks are still required.