High blood pressure describes what happens when your blood pressure is consistently too high, a process that forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body. Over time, this mechanism causes your arteries to lose their stretchiness and become stiff or narrow. The narrowing makes it easier for fatty material (atheroma) to clog them up, and if the arteries that carry blood to your heart get damaged and clogged, it can lead to a heart attack.
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Keeping your blood pressure reading under control is therefore imperative to preventing deadly complications.
The good news is, high blood pressure is usually the direct result of poor lifestyle decisions so leading a healthy lifestyle should ward off the threat.
Eating a nutritious diet plays a key role in reducing and preventing high blood pressure and evidence suggests even small tweaks can help.
Research investigating the health benefits of consuming black pepper, for example, has linked the popular spice to lowering blood pressure.
Several studies suggest the active substance found in black pepper called piperine helps to lower blood pressure.
One animal study found that pipeline lead to a significant reduction in high blood pressure in rats.
While adding pepper to your meals may help to lower your reading, it is important to curb your intake of salt.
Eating too much salt is the biggest cause of high blood pressure – the more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure will be.
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According to Blood Pressure UK, eating too much salt may mean that blood pressure medicines, such as diuretics, don’t work as well.
Therefore cutting the amount of salt you eat is one of the quickest ways to lower your blood pressure (especially if you have high blood pressure).
According to the NHS, an adult should eat no more than 6g of salt a day – that’s roughly about a teaspoon.
The safest way to stay within the recommended limits to is avoid processed foods such as bread, biscuits and breakfast cereals, because these items contain “hidden” salts.
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As Blood Pressure UK explains: “At first, food without salt may taste bland, but don’t give up. After a few weeks your taste buds will adjust and you will start to enjoy food with less salt.”
According to the NHS, eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure.
In addition to following a healthy dietary regime, exercising regularly can also help to lower your reading.
How are high blood pressure and exercise connected?
According to Mayo Clinic: “Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort.
“If your heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure.”
Becoming more active can lower your systolic blood pressure — the top number in a blood pressure reading — by an average of four to nine millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).
This reduction is significant because systolic blood pressure indicates your risk of having a heart attack.
Aerobic activity can be an effective way to control high blood pressure and any physical activity that increases your heart and breathing rates is considered aerobic activity.
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