Every second adult these days complains of having high blood pressure, also called hypertension. The reasons are many, but the stressful conditions of daily life and sedentary lifestyle that most people have is, is to blame for the large part of it.
According to the World health Organisation, High BP is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths globally, which means about 12.8% of the total of deaths in the world are caused by the raised blood pressure.
A study done by the Department of Community Medicine, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University in 2012 termed hypertension as one of the biggest health challenges in the 21st century.
The Global Burden of Disease study has reported hypertension as the fourth contributor to premature death in developed countries and the seventh in the developing countries.
Although the condition is common, readily detectable, and easily treatable, it is usually asymptomatic and often leads to lethal complications if left untreated.
The most worrisome part is anyone can suffer from hypertension; An unhealthy lifestyle raises the risk and the higher your blood pressure becomes, the higher is the risk of having a stroke or heart attack! That’s the reason to worry.
When are you called a high BP patient?
If the blood pressure readings are consistently 140 or above for systolic pressure and 90 or above for diastolic pressure, a person can be said to be a patient of high BP or hypertension. Sometimes the BP rises due to eating too much of deep fried foods, indigestion or consuming acidic foods, but this is not a reason to worry as it is temporary and the blood pressure returns to normal once food is digested.
What causes high BP?
There is no single reason that causes the blood pressure to shoot up in a normal adult. But there are certain risk factors like consuming too much salt, not eating enough fruit and vegetables, over-weight, drinking alcohol. Those who don’t do much physical activity are also at increased risk.
What happens when you have high BP
Now, this is something which we all must understand. High BP puts extra strain on the heart and blood vessels, making them weak or even cause physical damage. Those who have consistent high BP face the risk of serious health problems. High BP can affect the body in a number of ways:
It can lead to a heart attack, may even cause heart failure.
It is a leading cause of brain stroke. It has also been closely linked to some forms of dementia.
It can impair the functioning of kidneys.
It can cause peripheral arterial disease, which can affect the legs.
“It is important for everyone to keep the blood pressure in control. More so for those who have other health conditions like diabetes or high cholesterol,” says Dr Ajay Gupta, senior consultant, Pushpanjali Crosslay Hospital, Ghaziabad.
“Healthy lifestyle changes will help bring the high BP down. Don’t wait until you have high BP to make these healthy lifestyle changes. The more you can reduce your blood pressure, the lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke will be,” he adds.
High BP patients should include more vegetables and fruits rich in minerals and vitamins in your diet, especially the Q10 coenzyme, vitamins B6, B12, C, and E.
Though doctors prescribe different medicines for lowering the blood pressure, most of these have side effects. The good news is there are certain herbs and spices that, if consumed regularly, lower blood pressure without causing any unwanted side effects. These spices must be added in daily meals by everyone, especially those suffering from the problem of high BP. These are:
Garlic: One of the best spices to tackle high BP, it naturally lowers blood pressure and is also beneficial for keeping the heart healthy.
Hawthorn: called Nagphani in Hindi, this one is rich in flavonoids that help restore the system. Studies have shown that it is more effective when taken along with medicine. It can be taken as a supplement or infusion.
Saffron: Regular consumption normalizes high BP.
Ginger: Ginger in any form is good for keeping BP under check, but fresh ginger is the best.
Pepper: Quite effective is reducing BP, but it should be consumed once or twice a week.
Ginkgo Biloba: It helps expand arterial walls so is good for lowering pressure.
Turmeric: It lowers cholesterol level and hence the formation of clots. It should be consumed daily.
Olive: The leaves of the olive tree can be used both fresh and dried (for an infusion or as an essential oil), to strengthen and bolster the heart and blood vessels. The active ingredient in the leaves is oleuropein which protects the heart and flavonoids which expands blood vessels.
Cinnamon: Daily consumption of 1-2 grams of cinnamon can lower high blood pressure in diabetics.
Lavender and Nutmeg: These improve blood circulation.