Have you had your blood pressure checked recently?
High blood pressure is common in New Zealand, with 1 in 5 Kiwis affected by it. Untreated, it can lead to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.
As blood moves around your body, it pushes against the artery walls. The strength of the pushing is your blood pressure. If the pressure is too high, it puts too much strain on your arteries and heart and can lead to serious health problems.
There aren’t always obvious signs your blood pressure is high, so the best way to find out is to have it regularly checked by your GP, nurse or pharmacist. High blood pressure can be managed with healthy lifestyle changes and/or medication.
Here are our top tips to help lower your blood pressure:
1. Quit smoking
Smoking dramatically increases your risk of stroke and heart disease as well as a number of other conditions. Smoking causes your arteries to narrow (like high blood pressure does). If you have high blood pressure and smoke, then you have an even higher risk of stroke and heart disease.
2. Get moving
Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight is important in reducing your risk of high blood pressure. Make it something you enjoy, such as walking, gardening, swimming or cycling. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate activity can reduce your risk of heart disease.
3. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet that’s low in saturated fat and high in fruit and vegetables will help reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Drink water and avoid drinks high in sugar, such as fizzy drinks.
4. Reduce your stress
Stress is not good for your blood pressure, especially if it’s ongoing. Take part in activities that reduce your stress such as meditation or practising mindfulness. If possible, make lifestyle changes to reduce your stress levels such as finding a better work/life balance or changing jobs.
5. Limit alcohol
6. Limit salt
Salt causes your body to hold onto fluid, which increases blood pressure. Cutting back on salt can therefore help prevent high blood pressure. Processed food and takeaways can be very high in salt so cooking at home from scratch reduces your risk.
7. Avoid large amounts of liquorice
Did you know liquorice contains a chemical that can raise your blood pressure? Eating more than 57g a day for at least 2 weeks can have serious consequences such as increased blood pressure and irregular heart rhythm.
8. Take medication
There are medications available to lower blood pressure. These must be prescribed by a GP or specialist.
If you have any concerns or questions, please contact your healthcare provider or GP.
- Managing high blood pressure Heart Foundation, NZ
- Preventing high blood pressure WebMD, US
- Can eating too much black liquorice be back for you? NHS, UK