High blood pressure does not give troublesome clinical symptoms, therefore many people do not know about their disease for years. It occurs more and more often in people even after the age of 40. Symptoms of the disease include: morning headaches, dizziness, redness of the face and neck, nosebleeds. However, if hypertension is not treated in time, it leads to many dangerous organ complications.
What is blood pressure anyway? - This is the question we address to cardiologist Dr. Piotr Flis.
- Figuratively speaking, it is the force that makes the blood in the vessels flow through the subsequent arteries. This force not only moves the blood in the vessels, but presses on the vessel walls. Increased arterial pressure in the vessels, or hypertension, causes excessive pressure on the arterial walls. The longer this situation lasts, the more damage occurs in the vessels, which consequently leads to dangerous changes in the internal organs.
What promotes hypertension?
- We speak of two types of hypertension - primary and secondary. Primary hypertension, otherwise known as idiopathic hypertension, has an unexplained cause. It is caused by age over 60, overweight, unhealthy diet with excessive amounts of salt, heavy eating, lack of exercise, alcohol, smoking, stress. Hypertension often has a family history.
Secondary hypertension is the result of an existing disease. It can occur in the case of kidney disease, vascular disease, heart defect or diabetes. It is therefore important to make a correct diagnosis and undertake effective treatment.
The cardiologist decides on the treatment and supervises the whole process. In some cases, it is enough to reduce body weight, eat a proper diet and exercise. More often, however, it is necessary to introduce pharmacological agents, which does not exempt the patient from the obligation to follow the rules of a healthy lifestyle.
What tests are indicated for people with hypertension?
- Since hypertension causes changes in the retina, a fundus examination by an ophthalmologist is indicated. Periodically, a urinalysis and urine culture should be performed, and blood levels of potassium, sodium and creatinine should be measured to check kidney function. Control of total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides is recommended in all patients. People with hypertension should have an ECG.
What recommendations would you have for patients with hypertension?
- If you suffer from hypertension, regularly check and record your blood pressure values. Measurements should be taken in the morning, at midday and in the evening.
- Control cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Take prescribed medicines regularly. Discontinuing them on your own can lead to a worsening of your condition.
- Increase physical activity as recommended by your doctor.
- Give up smoking cigarettes.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
Finally, it is worth noting that taking medication does not exempt you from maintaining a proper diet and does not end when your blood pressure normalizes.
Hypertension and diet
Nutritionists recommend above all a healthy and well-balanced diet. It is generally known that with hypertension, salt intake should be limited, but what should you eat to actually have a healthy diet?
It is recommended to consume about 400 g of vegetables and fruit daily (3/4 of which are vegetables). They are a source of vitamins, minerals (e.g. magnesium and potassium, whose deficiency causes disturbances in the work of the cardiovascular system, and the role of potassium is, among others, to regulate blood pressure), dietary fibre, flavonoids, which support the proper work of the heart and help maintain normal blood pressure. This has been confirmed in studies of people on an intrameat diet who had a lower cardiovascular risk than those on a meat diet. What about groats? Just like fruit and vegetables, they are a source of dietary fibre, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals.
Just 200 g of fruit and vegetables per day reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular diseases. Particularly beneficial are green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, apples, blackcurrants, wholemeal cereals and nuts.
We limit fatty animal products in favour of fish and vegetable oils and lean dairy.
Fatty meat and animal fats are sources of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol. Their excessive consumption results in an increase in blood cholesterol levels and the appearance of vascular incidents, including hypertension. Also avoid processed meat.
OMEGA acids for hypertension
Fish and vegetable oils are sources of unsaturated fatty acids. They contain omega-6 and omega-3 unsaturated and monounsaturated acids, which lower the level of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, reduce the risk of atherosclerotic plaque build-up in the blood vessels, and thus prevent the closure of the vessel lumen, which is the cause of hypertension.
Marine fish, a source of omega-3 fatty acids - DHA, should be eaten at least twice a week to provide adequate amounts of DHA and reduce cardiovascular risk. It is recommended that vegetable fats be consumed raw and as a side dish.
Dairy products are a source of protein and calcium. However, we should choose those with a reduced fat content. Fermented dairy products (natural yoghurts, buttermilk, kefirs) are worth eating because they contain probiotic bacteria, which have a beneficial effect on the work of the digestive tract, lower cholesterol levels in the blood and influence fat metabolism in the body.
The introduction of all these components in the daily diet has a beneficial effect on the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system and protects against its dysfunction.
How to maintain a hypertension diet
Unfortunately, it can be difficult and tedious to follow all the recommendations, but we are not alone in this, becausedieticians canhelp. You can, for example, use an individual diet plan, which the specialist arranges for our specific needs and state of health, or a ready-made diet plan. Online ready diet is a good option because it does not require visits to the clinic, and the plan is arranged for a given disease unit by an experienced dietician. There is always the possibility to consult the specialist who prepared the diet, e.g. during a teleconsultation.
By following dietary recommendations and incorporating daily physical activity, you can improve your quality of life, support the treatment of hypertension or lower your risk of developing it, and effectively prevent cardiovascular disease.