7 easy steps to avoid getting hypertension

Published Jun 28, 2024


Today’s modern world can make staying healthy hard. One major health issue many people face is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

This is often regarded as a silent problem that can slowly harm your heart and blood vessels, without any clear signs. If you don’t control it, hypertension can lead to serious health issues like heart disease, stroke and kidney problems.

It’s important to understand this condition in order to stay healthy and to live longer. While medications are important, changing your every day habits can also make a big difference.

Healthy habits not only help control high blood pressure, but they also improve your overall quality of life.

By eating better, being more active, managing stress, and keeping a healthy weight, you can lower your blood pressure. Picture: Yaroslav Shuraev/Pexels

By eating better, being more active, managing stress and keeping a healthy weight, you can lower your blood pressure.

This article will share simple, science-backed tips to help you manage hypertension and to take charge of your heart health.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of death from heart diseases and strokes, causing 13% of all deaths worldwide.

In South Africa, more than one in three adults live with high blood pressure and it is responsible for one in every two strokes and two in every five heart attacks.

According to MediBüddy's chief medical officer, Dr Zaheer Kader, controlling your blood pressure isn't just something you should think about doing, it should be something you actively work on every day.

In order to enjoy better heart health today and long into the future, you can make a few simple lifestyle changes that can help you control your blood pressure and maintain it.

Here are Dr Kader’s top tips for making these changes today.

Maintain a healthy diet

Reducing salt intake is crucial, as excess sodium can elevate blood pressure. Even minor reductions in sodium intake can yield significant improvements.

A diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables as well as low in cholesterol and saturated fats, can also lower blood pressure significantly.

The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in colourful vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats, is particularly beneficial. Get creative with your meals and eat foods of all colours of the rainbow for improved heart health.

Exercise regularly

Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can also go a long way in reducing blood pressure.

Experts advise at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which can include activities like walking, swimming or cycling.

Even moderate activities, like dancing or hiking, can make a significant difference. Come up with an exercise plan that’s both enjoyable and that suits your health needs.

Quit or limit vices

We all have our vices, but those extra glasses of wine at dinner or cigarettes on your lunch break can put added strain on your heart.

Quitting smoking can substantially improve blood pressure levels, while moderate alcohol consumption—limited to one glass for women and two for men—may have a positive effect.

It may be difficult to cut these out completely but remember – moderation is key.

Manage stress

While stress doesn't directly cause chronic high blood pressure, unhealthy reactions to stress can elevate blood pressure levels.

Living in our fast-paced society can make it difficult to have healthy coping mechanisms. Engage in stress-relieving activities like meditation, breath work or practising gratitude to keep those stress levels down.

Prioritise sleep

Poor sleep habits, such as insufficient sleep or sleep disturbances, can increase hypertension risk. Try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule and create a restful sleep environment (which means putting that phone away). Sleep is an underrated, but extremely important, part of your overall health.

Monitor blood pressure

Monitoring your blood pressure at home empowers you to track changes and evaluate the effectiveness of your lifestyle adjustments.

Blood pressure monitors are readily available at local pharmacies, allowing you to take an active role in managing your health.

You can make use of apps like Eagle Intelligent Health to store your health data and key information about any medications you may be taking.

Managing your blood pressure does require lifestyle changes, but those changes don’t have to be difficult or disruptive to your life. In fact, most of them should fit seamlessly into your daily routine, said Dr Kader.