High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for death in the world. Globally, 1.13 billion people suffer from hypertension. At least 1 in 5 New Zealanders have high blood pressure but most don’t know they have it.

Uncontrolled hypertension can cause a number of health problems. It can cause serious damage to the heart as the high pressure hardens arteries and decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. It can cause an irregular heart beat which can lead to sudden death. Hypertension can also block or burst arteries that supply blood or oxygen to the brain, causing a stroke. Additionally, it can also cause kidney damage, interfering with their ability to filter blood properly leading to kidney failure.

Other health problems associated with hypertension include, heart disease or microvascular disease, of which angina, or chest pain, is a symptom, strain or damage to blood vessels in your eyes leading to loss of vision, erectile dysfunction in men and lower libido in women, atherosclerosis caused by high blood pressure can cause pain and fatigue in peripheral areas of the body such as arms, legs, stomach and head.

As we age our blood pressure increases, so that by the time we are 60 about two thirds of the population suffer from it.

The good news is that hypertension can be prevented and reversed easily by a few lifestyle changes. Reduce salt intake to less than 5mg per day. Eat more fruit and vegetables, including flavanoid-rich foods such as berries, apples and pears, which have shown to lower blood pressure through improved changes in gut bacteria diversity. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure. Plants are also low in sodium and fat and are free from cholesterol. Eliminate eating foods high in saturated fats such as animal meats, dairy products, eggs, tropical oils such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil and palm oil, mayonnaise, fried foods and baked foods. Eliminate foods with trans fats such as processed foods and fast foods including cakes, cookies, crackers, margarines, fries, potato chips, popcorn, pizza. Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption. Exercize on a daily basis. Avoid smoking tobacco. Reduce and manage stress.



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