Living with high blood pressure

    • Brief

    • High blood pressure (hypertension) cases have been rising due to people’s lifestyle changes. Eating more calories than you need, not exercising enough, smoking cigarettes and drinking too much alcohol can all lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure usually does not have any symptoms, so you can only tell your blood pressure by taking measurements. Some people may experience symptoms of high blood pressure, but that usually is a sign of organ damage. It can be fatal to wait for these symptoms to appear.

    • Diets that help with high blood pressure

    • A healthy diet is important yo ensure that you remain healthy, it does not cure high blood pressure. Don't stop your high blood pressure medicine because you have started a diet.

      Losing weight can reduce your blood pressure. Your diet can make it easier for you to achieve a healthy weight and to get your blood pressure under control.

      The DASH diet is a clinically tested diet that helps increase your protein intake reduces salt and carbohydrates in your meals. Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day while reducing your saturated and total fat intake and eating healthy fats in moderation, such as those in olive oil, nuts and seeds. Following such a diet reduces your blood pressure significantly and reduces your risk for heart diseases.

      The DASH diet consists mainly of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and includes whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts. You should avoid red meat, sweets and sugar-containing beverages.

    • How to prevent complications

    • Complications of high blood pressure mainly come through the damage caused by increased pressure on your blood vessels. You can prevent complications by:

      • Taking your medicines as advised by your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may recommend certain medicines if you are at high risk of complications. This can be Aspirin or Clopidogrel, with the doses depending on your risks.
      • Exercising daily, such as walking instead of using a motorbike (okada) from the bus stop, and taking stairs instead of using the lift.
      • Eating healthier foods. Fruits and vegetables should make up half or more of your plate. See the diet section for more information.
      • Managing stress by setting realistic goals, accepting that you can’t change some things in life, getting enough rest and sleep, and seeking counselling when you can’t handle stress on your own.
      • Attending clinics as scheduled and do your tests when requested by your healthcare provider.
      • Regularly checking your blood pressure, which will help you identify changes early. Get a home blood pressure measuring machine if you can afford one or check at your local pharmacist (usually free).
    • Dealing with side effects of high blood pressure medicines

      • You might feel tired and dizzy at the beginning of the treatment. Exercising will help you cope better. Ensure that you gradually get up from resting positions; moving suddenly may cause you to feel lightheaded.
      • The medicine or uncontrolled high blood pressure may cause you to have difficulties getting a stiff penis for sexual intercourse. Water pills (like Moduretic) and Methyldopa may affect your sexual functioning. Speak to your healthcare provider if you experience this. Don’t stop taking your medicines without medical advice.
      • Nausea and vomiting. Almost all medicines that are taken by mouth can cause these symptoms. You may take your medicines after a meal to reduce this effect.
      • Medicines like Captopril may cause a dry cough. Mention this to your healthcare provider if it doesn't go away after a week or two.
    • Should you stop taking blood pressure medicines?

    • You will need to take your blood pressure medicines for life to prevent complications. Taking blood pressure medicines as advised by your healthcare provider will help you live a longer and healthier life. You should speak with your healthcare provider before stopping or adjusting your medicine dose.