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High blood pressure (also called 'hypertension') occurs when blood vessels harden leading to a buildup of pressure. The heart has to work hard to pump blood around the body against this extra pressure. Many people with high blood pressure have no symptoms so it's important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
So what is 'normal' blood pressure anyway? Normal blood pressure is classed by the National Heart Foundation as a reading less than 120/80 mmHg. It's important to achieve normal readings as high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, heart failure and stroke.
Here are the nib dietitian's tips for reducing blood pressure and improving your heart health.
No matter what our age, we all need regular physical activity for good heart health (not to mention our physical and mental health). It is recommended that adults include at least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week.
Moderate intensity physical activity causes a moderate, noticeable increase in depth and rate of breathing while still being able to talk comfortably. It includes things like walking, cycling, dancing, gardening and swimming. Check out our other tips on making physical activity part of your day.
Everyone knows that smoking causes cancer, heart diseases, strokes and breathing difficulties. But did you know smokers are more likely to die of heart and blood vessel disease than from lung cancer?
One of the reasons smoking is so bad for heart health is that tobacco smoke raises blood pressure and heart rate. Quitting smoking at any age will reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and several other health related conditions but the sooner you quit, the greater the health benefit.
There are many foods that help reduce blood pressure. A healthy diet should include:
These foods are all low in sodium and beneficial amounts of potassium, magnesium and calcium. The right balance of minerals in the blood is important for healthy blood pressure.
Many Australians eat more salt than they need. Most of the salt eaten is not salt added to food in the home, but salt found in processed and packaged foods. On food labels, salt is listed as sodium.
To eat less salt:
You can reduce your blood pressure simply by cutting back on your alcohol intake. And that's not just advice for heavy drinkers: alcohol may increase blood pressure in even moderate drinkers. Australian government guidelines recommend no more than two standard drinks per day.
If you are overweight, losing weight is one of the best ways to drop your blood pressure. To help you get to – and stay at – your healthy body weight, have a read through our healthy lifestyle tips.
It is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly as there are usually no symptoms for high blood pressure. Every visit, ask your doctor to measure your blood pressure and write down the result.
The COACH Program® is a confidential free health coaching service delivered over the phone by nib’s Accredited Practicing Dietitians to help those at risk of, or with, Coronary Heart Disease. Based on a self-management model, it’s all about helping you to take better care of yourself. Please phone 1800 339 219 or email [email protected] for more information.