salt and hypertension

High blood pressure or hypertension means high pressure in the arteries. Arteries are vessels that carry blood from the pumping heart to all the tissues and organs of the body. Though high blood pressure does not mean excessive emotional tension, emotional tension and stress can temporarily increase blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80; blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is called "pre-hypertension", and a blood pressure of 140/90 or above is considered high.

High blood pressure increases the risk of developing heart disease, kidney disease, hardening of the arteries, eye damage, and stroke. These complications of hypertension are end-organ damage because damage to these organs is the end result of chronic high blood pressure. This makes it essential for high blood pressure to be diagnosed and managed quickly to prevent these complications. Hypertension in isolation usually produces no symptoms although some people report headaches, fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, facial flushing, transient insomnia or difficulty sleeping due to feeling hot.

Sodium and salt have been shown to contribute to the development of high blood pressure. Its also been proven to help manage hypertension if a low sodium diet is adopted. This means salt intake should be reduced. Some foods with hidden sodium include breakfast cereals, salad dressings, processed chicken, ham, bacon, corned beef, sausages, salted beef and koobi. Canned foods, cheese, pizza, salted snack foods such as salted crackers and chips, salted popcorn, spices and seasonings including ‘cubes’, kawe, monosodium glutamate (MSG) baking soda and baking powder are other sources of sodium. For someone suffering from high blood pressure, it would be beneficial to reduce intake of the above named foods. It is also useful to reduce intake of fats and oils generally and to increase intake of various fruits and vegetables.

Some lifestyle modifications that can be done to prevent and manage hypertension includes participating in regular exercise at least 30 minutes daily. Regular mild exercise improves blood flow and helps to reduce resting heart rate and blood pressure. People suffering from hypertension should stop smoking and drinking alcohol. In some individuals, reduction in consumption of caffeine products helps them manage their high blood pressure.

All health centers and some pharmacy shops test blood pressure levels and it is advisable that for people who are obese, above 40 years and have a family history of hypertension to test their blood pressure levels at least once a month.



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