Managing Hypertension: A Guide for Health-Conscious Singaporeans
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition affecting millions of people worldwide. In Singapore, hypertension is estimated to be around 37% in 2022 as per the National Population Health Survey. Unmanaged hypertension may lead to a variety of complications/diseases such as heart disease, stroke and renal impairment. Maintaining healthy blood pressure levels is therefore vital for overall well-being.
Causes and Risk Factors of Hypertension:
The actual cause of hypertension is unknown. However, there may be several factors that may increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:
- Age: Your risk of hypertension increases as you get older.
- Family history: If you have a family history of hypertension, you are more likely to develop the condition yourself.
- Race: Hypertension is more common in certain races, such as African Americans and Asians.
- Obesity: Being overweight may also be a major risk factor for hypertension.
- Physical inactivity: Physically inactive individuals are more likely to develop hypertension.
- Smoking: Smoking can increase your risk of hypertension.
- Too much alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol can raise your blood pressure.
- Certain medical conditions: Several medical conditions, such as kidney disease and diabetes, may increase the risk of hypertension.
Potential Complications of Hypertension
If hypertension is not managed correctly, it can lead to several serious health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Heart failure
- Kidney disease
- Vision problems
Hypertension is a silent killer, often showing no apparent symptoms until too late. This condition occurs when the blood is pumped around the body at higher pressure, causing potential damage to blood vessels and increasing the risk of kidney failure, coronary heart disease, and stroke until it is too late. But the good news is that you can take control of your hypertension through lifestyle changes, including a heart-healthy diet.
The Power of a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet is the foundation of managing hypertension effectively. Making the right food choices can prevent hypertension and keep your blood pressure in check. Let’s delve into some essential dietary guidelines:
1. Moderate Your Sodium Intake: Sodium, a mineral crucial for normal bodily functions, can increase blood pressure when consumed excessively, particularly in sodium-sensitive individuals. To reduce sodium intake, follow these practical tips:
- When Cooking at Home: Minimise salt, sauces, stock cubes, and seasoning powders. Instead, enhance flavours by using natural herbs and spices like onion, ginger, garlic, chilli, parsley, spring onions, cinnamon, and cloves.
- Eating Out: Request your food to be prepared with less salt and sauces, and avoid drinking soup stocks and sauces, as they often contain high sodium levels.
- Shopping Smart: Choose fresh food whenever possible and read Nutrition Information Panel on food labels to select products with lower sodium content. Look for the Healthier Choice Symbol on products as they contain less sodium.
2. Increase Intake of Fibre-Rich Foods: Foods rich in fibre, magnesium, and potassium have been shown to lower blood pressure. To incorporate more of these heart-healthy nutrients into your diet:
- Opt for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables: Replace refined grains with wholemeal or multigrain options, and choose fruits and vegetables over salty snacks.
3. Limit Fat Intake: Excessive dietary fat can cause weight gain and increase the chances of getting hypertension. Make healthier fat choices with these tips:
- Healthy Cooking Methods: Use less oil when cooking, and choose steaming, boiling, and grilling over deep-frying.
- Lean Protein: Select lean meat or poultry without skin, and limit consumption of deep-fried foods.
- Fat-Free Options: Choose fat-free or lower-fat dairy products like milk and yoghurt, and check food labels for healthier fat options.
4. Limit Alcohol Consumption: Frequent alcohol consumption can elevate blood pressure and adversely affect heart health. If you decide to drink, moderate your intake to no more than one standard daily drink.
5. Lose weight, if Needed: Losing weight, even modestly, can significantly reduce blood pressure. Regular exercise and eating a well-balanced diet may help you maintain a healthy weight and manage hypertension better.
Taking control of hypertension through dietary adjustments is a proactive step towards improving your heart health. Following these dietary guidelines can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and even complement medical treatments if you’re already diagnosed with hypertension.
Remember: Small changes in your diet can significantly improve your overall well-being. Embrace a heart-healthy lifestyle and reap the benefits of a healthier heart and body.
Medication and Monitoring
Sometimes, lifestyle modifications may not be enough to control your hypertension. If so, your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower your blood pressure. It is important to take your medication as prescribed and to monitor your blood pressure regularly.
Hypertension is a serious condition, but you can manage it effectively. By making lifestyle modifications and taking medication as prescribed, you can lower your blood pressure and risk of developing severe health problems.
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- Early Detection for Better Prevention: Regular health screenings are proactive measures that empower you to take charge of your well-being. By identifying potential health issues early, you have a higher chance of preventing hypertension from progressing into more severe conditions. Our Health Screening packages are designed to pinpoint the slightest signs of health risks, enabling you to address them promptly and effectively.
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