Since 2005, 17th May has been established as World Hypertension Day (WHD). This day is an initiative of the World Hypertension League which is affiliated to the International Society of Hypertension & the World Health Organization.
The purpose of this day is to educate the public about the dangers of hypertension, to advocate for methods to reduce hypertension and to encourage the public to adopt lifestyle changes that can control and prevent further development of this modern epidemic. This year the theme for WHD is #KnowYourNumbers. Blood pressure (BP) is the number 1 cause of preventable death worldwide! High BP often has no symptoms and through this day, the WHL hopes that more people will make an effort to get their BP checked and make appropriate lifestyle changes.
In line with this, the ISH also promotes May as ‘May Measurement Month’ (MMM). This initiative was started in 2017 and builds on the aims and purposes of the WHD. Most people are unaware of the enormity of the situation and over 10 million lives are lost every year because of high blood pressure.
According to the ISH:
focusing the spotlight on increasing access to blood pressure screening is potentially the most effective way to reduce hypertension’s adverse toll on health
Last year the MMM initiative provided BP screening to over 1.5 million people across the world. This year, the initiative hopes to reach more people and save millions of lives on the way.
Let’s say you do #knowyournumber, what next? Here are a few steps to keep your BP in check -
Maintain a healthy weight: Research has shown that maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your blood pressure.
Exercise regularly: Try to get around 30 minutes of exercise a day. It should be something that gets your heart rate up, and makes you break out in a sweat.
Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables: Try to eat your vegetables steamed, pan fried or baked instead of deep fried or boiled. Beetroots deserve a special shout out here as regular consumption of beetroot juice has been found to help bring down blood pressure
Reduce consumption of salt, fat and sugar: Excessive consumption of all these will lead to weight gain, or cause an increase in cholesterol. Avoid processed foods which have an abundance of trans fats, sugars and salt.
Quit smoking: Smoking tobacco causes your arteries to clog up faster by narrowing your arteries. This leads to an increase in your BP, which then comes with its own list of health problems.
Reduce your alcohol intake: Alcohol contains calories, which may lead to unwanted and unhealthy weight gain, which is a risk factor for BP.
Manage your stress: Try to avoid stress, and if its not fully possible to do that. Follow some steps to manage or reduce it. (link to stress article)
By incorporation these steps, and knowing your number you’re taking charge of your own health. More power to you!
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