Heart Health and Hypertension – the Silent Killer!

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. It’s often caused by factors that affect how blood vessels work and the amount of fluid in your body. While genetics play a role, diet, lifestyle, psychological, and environmental factors are the main causes in most cases.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

  • Eating too many calories
  • High sodium (salt) to potassium ratio
  • Low fibre and high sugar intake
  • Eating too much saturated fat and not enough omega-3 fatty acids
  • Diets low in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C

Managing High Blood Pressure

Most people with high blood pressure fall into the borderline to moderate range and can control it with diet and lifestyle changes. In some cases, medication might be necessary until these changes take effect.

Lifestyle Factors:

Smoking: Smoking significantly increases the likelihood of developing heart disease by damaging both the heart and blood vessels. This damage can impede blood flow to the heart, increasing the risk of a heart attack.

Stress: It’s not just stress itself but how you respond to it. Techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce blood pressure.

Alcohol: Excessive drinking can raise blood pressure.

Exercise: Regular exercise, even just 20 minutes of mild to moderate aerobic exercise three times a week, can significantly lower blood pressure.


Weight: Achieving and maintaining a normal weight is crucial. Weight loss can significantly improve or even eliminate high blood pressure.

Plant Foods: Increasing plant foods in your diet can help. They naturally have a high potassium-to-sodium ratio, which is beneficial for blood pressure. Aim for a ratio greater than 5:1.

Beneficial Foods:

  • Celery
  • Garlic and onions
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Cold-water fish
  • Green leafy vegetables (rich in calcium and magnesium)

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet are both effective for managing high blood pressure. They emphasise fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and low saturated fats while reducing sodium intake.

Nutritional Supplements for High Blood Pressure

  • Magnesium: Helps keep blood vessels relaxed and healthy.
  • Vitamin C: An antioxidant that can help lower blood pressure.
  • Folic Acid and Vitamin B6: Reduce homocysteine levels, which can contribute to atherosclerosis.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Improve blood flow, prevent clots, reduce bad LDL cholesterol, and increase good HDL cholesterol.

By making these changes, you can effectively manage your blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart-related issues.

Blood Pressure Categories

  • Optimal: Less than 120/80
  • Normal: 120-129/80-85
  • Borderline: 130-139/85-89
  • Mild (Stage 1): 140-159/90-99
  • Moderate (Stage 2): 160-179/100-109
  • Severe: Greater than 180/110

If you think you have hypertension, please call in to have your numbers checked with our clinic sister.

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