When Hypertension Leads to More Conditions
Reducing salt in your diet can save your life according to Deputy Director of the Department of Dietetic and Food Services at Changi General Hospital, Ms Magdalin Cheong.
Did you know that almost one in four Singaporeans, aged 30 to 69, are at risk of hypertension?
Many might not be aware of this fact, but the recommended amount of salt intake is less than 2,000mg, or one teaspoon (5g), each day.
One teaspoon of salt. That’s all we ideally need in a day.
However, how many of us adhere to this guideline? As Singaporeans, we love our food, just as much as we whine about our humid weather. Chee Cheong Fun, Char Kway Teow, Hokkien Mee, Wanton Mee – all these potentially contain a certain amount of salt beyond our recommended intake. Moreover, if we eat out for every meal – congratulations. We may just be edging our way closer towards that all-too-familiar condition known as ‘Hypertension’.
Little wonder why Ms Cheong commented that “reducing salt in your diet can save your life.” However, how do we prevent hypertension then, and why is its prevention so important?
Hypertension – What is it?
Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure. According to a salt intake study conducted by the Health Promotion Board (HPB), eight in 10 Singaporeans consume more than 60 per cent above the recommended intake of 5g of salt per day. It was found that sauces and table salt were responsible for more than half of the salt in our diet. Eating out was also found to contribute towards two-thirds of our salt intake.
Repercussions of Hypertension
Hypertension increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis, which is the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, leading to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and kidney failure.
A reduction in systolic blood pressure of 5 mm Hg has been observed to lower mortality rates of 14% in strokes, 9% in heart disease and 7% in all causes. This research, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the United States’ leading medical research agency, further affirms that reducing salt in our diet is useful towards a healthier lifestyle.
How do I achieve that healthier lifestyle and prevent hypertension, then, you may ask?
Tips on Combating Hypertension
Lifestyle modifications have been proven to be successful in lowering blood pressure. We gather these three fuss-free tips for you to adopt a healthy lifestyle and bring that blood pressure measurement just that notch lower.
Tip #1: Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Of course, we are not saying that you should run to work like the above photo but putting in about 150 minutes of exercise regularly per week can help to lower blood pressure by maintaining your heart and blood vessels in a healthy condition.
Tip #2: Making Changes to Your Diet
One cheat tip we have is increasing your fibre intake as that speeds up the removal of cholesterol from your blood. Cholesterol is responsible for the plaque build up within our arteries, causing our blood pressure to increase.
Another diet that you can consider is called the DASH diet. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was designed by the NIH to help treat or prevent hypertension. It is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that can lead to reductions in blood pressure.
DASH emphasises vegetables, fruits and whole grains and moderate amounts of low-fat dairy products, protein sources and nuts.
Limiting our intake of all types of fats and replacing saturated with unsaturated fats like vegetable oils will help significantly too.
Take a gradual approach in reducing your salt intake to help your tastebuds adjust.
Tip #3: Monitor Your Blood Pressure Regularly
A 2013 study conducted by researchers in Minnesota yielded findings that proved that regular self-monitoring of one’s blood pressure could lead to better control of the latter as compared to visits to the doctor.
The study comprised 450 participants with higher-than-average blood pressure and who were asked to either measure their blood pressure at home six times a week or do without self-monitoring. The results were startling. 72% of the home-monitoring participants were found to have their blood pressures under control as compared to 57% of the participants who only received monitoring during their doctor visits. This shows that frequent self-monitoring of our blood pressure can have positive effects in lowering our blood pressure levels due to our heightened awareness of the levels.
Unsure of how to choose a good blood pressure monitor? Here are some tips to look out for:
- Automatic monitors are easier to operate than manual ones (manual monitors involves using a stethoscope);
- Choose a monitor that takes the blood pressure reading using a cuff that fits around the upper arm;
- Ensure the screen’s display is large enough for you to see the numbers;
- A seal from an organisation such as the British Hypertension Society, International Protocol for the Validation of Automated BP Measuring Devices, or Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI).
Need a reliable blood pressure monitor? Zowacare has a range of monitors starting from S$48.90 which can help you hit that regular tracking to bring your blood pressure down. Lucky you if you are a new customer as well. All first-time shoppers get to enjoy 10% off your first purchase when you buy online. Just remember the coupon code ZOWA4U!
Have a blood pressure monitor at home already? Check out the video below to ensure that you are accurately taking your blood pressure.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGhSSDTaiaU&w=560&h=315]
Reducing Your Blood Pressure is Possible
For the sake of our family and ourselves, let’s do our part in keeping our own body healthy and robust. With the practice of these tips, we could perhaps work towards reducing that statistic of one in four Singaporeans being at risk of hypertension. Let’s minimise salt gradually from our diet.
Will you take up our challenge?
- American Academy of Family Physicians. (2015). How to lower your blood pressure without medicines [Pamphlet].
- Asiaone. (n.d.). 8 in 10 Singaporeans consume too much salt. Retrieved June 10, 2019, from https://www.asiaone.com/health/8-10-singaporeans-consume-too-much-salt
- Essential Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2019, from https://www.healthxchange.sg/high-blood-pressure/essential-guide-high-blood-pressure/hypertension-the-silent-killer
- Godman, H., (2013, July 03). Checking blood pressure at home pays off. Retrieved June 10, 2019, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/checking-blood-pressure-at-home-pays-off-201307036436
- SingHealth. (2011, March 29). How to monitor your blood pressure at home? – SingHealth Healthy Living Series. Retrieved June 10, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGhSSDTaiaU
- Weinberger, M. H., (1993). Lifestyle Modification and Nonpharmacologic Therapy for Hypertension.Cardiology in Review,1(3), 177-185. doi:10.1097/00045415-199301030-00006