Hypertension is deemed the number one risk factor worldwide for causing death by heart stroke. It accounts for nearly half of heart diseases and deaths connected to strokes, affecting more than 1 billion globally. Approximately 1.28 billion adults between 30–79 years worldwide suffer from hypertension. Modern lifestyle choices are blamed for this, so lifestyle modification for hypertension is important.
Obesity, tobacco use, coffee consumption, and junk food are some of the poor lifestyle choices of modern times, leading to hypertension, high blood pressure, heart ailments, and many more.
Considering the above statistics, it is wiser to say that lifestyle modification can be the only answer.
Hypertension is a common problem with many young adults today. When the blood pressure in the vessels is 140/90 mmHg or higher, hypertension occurs. Even though high blood pressure does not have any basic symptoms, leaving it untreated for long can become a matter of concern.
Hypertension is a lifestyle disease, usually triggered by poor choices, be it in terms of food habits, irregular living choices, excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco, physical inactivity, and many more.
Since the chances of severe ailments remain high, from kidney issues to heart diseases and stroke, lifestyle modification for hypertension has become a non-negotiable condition.
Often, hypertension is dubbed as the ‘silent killer.’ The primary reason why this illness is considered so dangerous is that it is asymptomatic. Many patients are not often aware of its existence until their health is monitored for serious hypertension-related diseases like heart failure or stroke. It gives doctors and patients very limited time to remediate the condition. And before you even realize it, your time is up!
Hypertension is classified into two categories: primary and secondary. Nearly 90% of the health challenges occur because of the primary one. Being overweight, a salt-heavy diet, lack of exercise, and drinking alcohol are a few driving forces easily remediated through measured lifestyle modification for hypertension. Secondary hypertension is often associated with underlying conditions, like kidney problems and endocrine disorders. Consider consulting a physician if you fall under the said category.
Lifestyle changes for hypertension are paramount because if it goes untreated, you are likely to face severe health challenges in the future, namely:
1. High blood pressure
2. kidney disease
3. Heart attack
4. Heart stroke or failure
5. Damage to other organs, including the brain
6. Untimely death
Hypertension, also commonly known as high blood pressure, is a chronic illness affecting nearly one in three American adults. In the US, the obesity epidemic is growing, with 19 states reporting adult obesity rates above 35%. Excess weight gain or obesity has been cited as one of the primary reasons causing hypertension, accounting for 65-75% of the risk.
Besides excessive fat gain, other lifestyle-inducing factors drive hypertension among young adults. These factors raise the importance of immediate lifestyle changes necessary for hypertension.
Let’s dive deeper into the lifestyle factors for a better understanding:
As stated earlier, obesity or excessive fat gain has been proven responsible for increasing blood pressure in adults, pivotal for hypertension to settle. The question is, however, how does obesity become an uncontrollable problem? Obesity is the accumulation of excessive calories stored in the body as fat. It is the residue left behind by excessive consumption of high-fat and sugar foods after the body uses the required energy through various physical activities.
Obesity occurs because of multiple reasons, namely:
• Engineered junk food
• Food addiction
• Leptin resistance
• Certain medications
• Minimal physical activities
• Underlying health conditions
• Stress and emotional factors
• Poor sleep
• Unhealthy lifestyle
Cigarette smoking is considered an avoidable factor causing cardiovascular death in the world. However, the significant side effect is that excessive smoking leads to a higher incidence of hypertension in adults. Smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate through accelerated sympathetic nerve activity and myocardial oxygen consumption. Besides hypertension, tobacco chemicals are damaging the thin lining of the heart’s arterial walls. This results in artery stiffness and narrowing. Further, smoking is connected with renal insufficiency and other cardiovascular complications.
High Sugar Intake
A diet high in sugar, especially fructose, has been found to be responsible for high blood pressure in men. And fructose consumption in excess can increase the risk of weight gain or obesity. Fructose is a dietary sugar, a common ingredient in corn syrup and table sugar. High-fructose corn syrup is primarily used in packaged sweetened products and aerated drinks for its long shelf life and low cost. This can induce addiction in people, paving the way for weight gain and hypertension.
Excessive Sodium Intake
Hypertension is linked to multiple dietary factors, and excessive sodium intake is one of them. An effective lifestyle modification for hypertension will work only when such diets are cut short or eliminated from our daily regime. Sodium chloride, or common salt, is a permanent kitchen ingredient. It is a taste enhancer, and no food will taste the way they taste without a pinch of salt added to it. However, excessive sodium chloride contained, mostly found in processed food, reduces the effectiveness of antihypertensives in patients. A high salt diet increases the need for potassium in the body to balance the impact of excess sodium. Low potassium will add to the excess accumulation of sodium in the body, leading to hypertension and chances of stroke.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption, roughly two drinks per day or more, leads to gradual BP elevations. The liquid disrupts smooth blood flow by diverting nutrient-rich blood from the heart. Further, alcohol reduces the effectiveness of antihypertensives. Binge drinking significantly increases blood pressure levels above average and gives birth to hypertension.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency increases the chances of hypertension in premenopausal women years later. Many studies have been conducted to establish the connection between Vitamin D deficiency and hypertension in premenopausal women. Further, this deficiency also leads to weakening muscles and bones, fatigue, depression, hair loss, and sleep deprivation. Some of these symptoms can also induce hypertension eventually.
Lifestyle management for hypertension has been gaining importance since more and more urban residents are complaining about sleep deprivation, stress, obesity, and high blood pressure. All these factors are nothing but the aftermath of erratic life choices. Sleep deprivation, insomnia, and irregular sleep patterns are prominent examples of how lifestyle choices can impact our overall well-being. Sleep deprivation is known to increase systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), ultimately leading to hypertension. Shorter sleep duration and poor sleep quality are the root causes of high BP levels, increased heart rate, and sympathetic activity, evolving into Hypertension.16, or higher levels of hypertension.
A lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle increase the heart rate, causing the organ to pump harder with each contraction, exerting a more potent force on the arteries. This inadvertently raises blood pressure, a surefire factor for hypertension. Physical inactivity can also result in obesity, diabetes, and increased medication burden.
Lifestyle changes for hypertension have become paramount for young adults. Lifestyle factors are essential determinants of blood pressure levels, one of them being dietary choices. The inverse relationship between dietary protein and blood pressure levels has been responsible for the excess accumulation of body fat and hypertension. As stated before, the inducing factors are undeniably dietary salt, alcohol, and physical inactivity. Blood pressure significantly lowers the effects of supplemental potassium, fiber, n-3 fatty acids, and diets rich in fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fats in humans. Stress becomes a byproduct, driving patients to add a regular intake of coffee, which, in turn, raises blood pressure in hypertensives.
Therefore, controlled and managed lifestyle modifications for hypertension are needed under expert guidance. These changes should include a positive transformation in physical activity and diet. Complex regime alterations such as a balanced diet, including fruit, vegetables, fats, fiber, n3 fatty acids, dietary fish consumption, physical activity, and psychological factors are paramount to reducing the risk of hypertension in young adults.
Lifestyle management not only reduces the risk of hypertension and chronic heart conditions but also has other benefits!
Improved Physical Well-Being
Sound mental health is correlated to physical well-being, keeping other health risks like hypertension under check. A few tips for developing healthy habits would be:
• Regular exercise
• Nutritious eating habits
• Adequate sleep
Induced Mental Stability
As mentioned above, a balanced and active lifestyle can significantly improve your mental state. It reduces stress and relaxes your brain cells. This, in turn, prevents unhealthy habits like smoking, binge drinking, and eating. The resultant impact is that these individuals become susceptible to hypertension and BP.
Elevated Coping Skills
One way to manage mental health is to identify triggers for negative behavior or thoughts. But for patients with a history of depression, this would be practically impossible without expert support and guidance. However, elevated coping skills from healthy lifestyle choices have helped individuals recognize the early triggers and cite medical attention if needed before they cumulate into severe mental and physical conditions, also leading to suicidal behaviors in patients.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices
A critical benefit of lifestyle management for hypertension would be undoubtedly setting healthy boundaries and maintaining emotional stability during a crisis. Avoiding potential burnout, an effect of overexertion or overcommitment in social situations will prevent a mental and emotional meltdown. This will prevent stress from accumulating in the body and causing other serious ailments to take shape, like hypertension, smoking and alcohol addiction, excessive eating, and others.
Depression or anxiety, induced by excessive stress and an unhealthy lifestyle, can prevent good relationships from developing with family and friends. The feeling of disconnectedness from near ones can further accentuate mental disorders, leading to other ailments, including hypertension. Therefore, meaningful connections through lifestyle modifications can be an antidote to depression or anxiety.
Hypertension and high blood pressure have been condemned as the silent killer. Medications can help keep them under check, but no permanent remedies exist. Since hypertension is a lifestyle illness, a few modifications in your daily routine might prove effective in the long run.
Here are a few healthy tips to follow:
• Eating a balanced diet low in salt and sugar
• Limiting alcohol consumption
• Quitting smoking and other tobacco consumption
• Enjoying regular physical activities
• Managing stress and anxiety
• Keeping your body weight under check
Managing blood pressure and keeping hypertension out of the way is a lifelong commitment. You cannot expect the symptoms to disappear overnight following temporary changes. Lifestyle modification for hypertension should be observed as a daily ritual. Only then would you be able to enjoy a stress-free, healthy lifestyle. A few changes in your approach to life can bring a dramatic change, clearing your perspective and keeping you sane and happy.
Ans. There’s no permanent cure for hypertension and blood pressure, but both can be kept under check through lifestyle modifications.
Ans. Some foods are really beneficial for high blood pressure patients, such as:
1. Leafy greens like cabbage, kale, spinach
2. Berries, including strawberries and blueberries
6. Lentils and pulses
Ans. When blood pressure remains elevated due to dehydration, drinking water helps lower it.
Ans. The right composition and combination of medicines prescribed by doctors help manage hypertension.
Ans. The risk factors for hypertension would be:
2. Family history
4. Physical inactivity
5. Tobacco consumption
6. Excess alcohol intake
7. Low potassium levels
8. High salt and sugar diet
Ans. Potential complications for untreated hypertension are:
1. Heart stroke
3. Heart failure
4. Kidney problems
5. Eye problems
6. Metabolic syndrome
8. Memory loss
Ans. Yes. Hypertension can be prevented by eating healthy, working out, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption.
Ans. Brisk or moderate walking for 10 minutes three times daily can help gradually reduce blood pressure.
Ans. Skim milk is rich in calcium but low in fat. These are essential diet elements to lower blood pressure.
Ans. Curd essentially prevents cholesterol formation, thereby preventing high blood pressure and hypertension.