Hypertension or high blood pressure is a chronic medical condition that can lead to strokes, myocardial infarction or heart attacks, heart failure, aneurysms of the arteries or chronic kidney disease. It is thus critical to detect hypertension as soon as possible, and adopt lifestyle changes as well as undergo medication as prescribed by a doctor to control blood pressure levels.
Blood pressure levels are classified as follows:
* Normal blood pressure: less than 120/80
* Prehypertension: 120-139/80-89
* Stage 1 Hypertension:140-159/90-99
* Stage 2 Hypertension: 160 or greater/100 or greater
People with blood pressure greater than normal or 120/80 should make the following lifestyle changes:
Lose weight. One should strive to maintain a normal body weight for adults and keep a body mass index within 20–25 kg/m2.
Reduce dietary sodium intake. Sodium intake must be limited to no more 2,300 milligrams a day. For those with hypertension, it must be limited to less than 1,500 milligrams a day.
Avoid alcohol. Men should not have more than 3 units/day while women should not have more than 2 units/day.
Avoid smoking. Nicotine can raise your blood pressure by 10 mm Hg or more for up to an hour after smoking or even exposure to cigarette smoke.
Be physically active. Make sure to do regular aerobic physical activity such as brisk walking.
Eat a healthy diet. A DASH diet rich in nuts, whole grains, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables is recommended. Consume at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day.