Hypertension or high blood pressure usually has no warning signs or symptoms. Most people have no idea they are at risk until it is too late. That’s why doctors call high blood pressure the silent killer.
Blood pressure often rises as you get older, obese, less active, drink more alcohol, and eat more salt. Sometimes, you may have an inherited tendency to have high blood pressure. However, whatever the reason is, it is advised to keep your blood pressure readings in the healthy range.
The first lifestyle change you need to bring is committing to a diet plan that helps tame your hypertensive condition. And while it is true that most blood pressure-friendly diets follow the same principles, there is also a need for personalised nutrition and customising your diet to suit your metabolic profile.
What is Hypertension?
An ideal blood pressure (BP) lies between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg and is high if consistently above 140/90mmHg. The first number in the blood pressure reading, called systolic blood pressure, is the pressure in the heart when it pumps blood around the body.
The second number, diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure when the heart rests. Even if your diastolic pressure is normal (lower than 80), you can have hypertension if the systolic reading is 140 or higher.
Studies reveal that hypertension increases your risk of cardiovascular diseases or heart attack and can also affect the brain, kidneys, and eyes. Therefore, monitoring your blood pressure frequently is vital to prevent such events.
It is also crucial to keep tabs on your metabolic health to avoid hypertension. Since you can’t visit your doctor regularly, HealthifyMe is designed to help users to record, track and analyse 80+ key metabolic parameters from home.
Blood pressure is just one of the many metrics this app can monitor over time. Here’s all you get with a subscription to HealthifyPro, the flagship product by HealthifyMe:
- Biosensor – CGM
- Metabolic Panel
- Customised Diet Plan
- Healthy Home Recipes
- Pro Nutritionist
- Customised Workout Plan
- Ria™ – AI Nutritionist
- Smart Scale
- Pro Fitness Trainer
- Unlimited Consultation Calls
- 1Connect™ – 24×7 Messaging
The improved fitness and metabolic health technology is a ‘pro’ solution to combat lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. All the premium plans easily fit into the busy schedule of fitness enthusiasts looking for real-time guidance on their fitness journey to meet their objectives, be it lowering blood pressure or losing weight.
The smart scale will help users better understand significant body composition metrics comprising 12+ parameters such as weight, fat percentage, BMI, BMR, muscle mass, and more. It guides you to lose the right weight, which is particularly beneficial for overweight patients with hypertension.
The Pro plan comes with sensors and body monitors, including a biosensor system with a Continuous Glucose Monitor (BIOS) and AI assistant Ria, who will instruct you at every step.
Ria can handle 77% of all your questions, while your assigned trainers and nutritionists focus on the remaining 23% of queries that rely on human judgement. The new CGM device makes glucose tracking much easier among people with diabetes with hypertension.
Over a billion people worldwide suffer from metabolic health disorders contributing to around 85% of hypertension. The health data collected from BIOS, companion sensors, and body monitors offer intelligent diagnostics on how your food and exercise affect metabolic health. As a result, it empowers you to make informed decisions in improving your metabolic scores. Additionally, to provide a complete health and fitness package, HealthifyPro offers cross-platform integration from apps including Google Fit, Apple Health, and Fitbit, among other devices.
Symptoms of Hypertension
Even if you’re only in your 20s or 30s, you aren’t too young to be affected by hypertension. However, it doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore elevated blood pressure readings.
High blood pressure in its early stages can be hard to spot. That’s because its symptoms are, well, common. So, it’s easy to confuse these symptoms with everyday stress, anxiety, or signs of menopause.
Once blood pressure reaches a certain level, the following symptoms begin to show:
- Blurry or double vision
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Chest discomfort
- Nausea or vomiting
In some cases, existing high blood pressure starts to show during pregnancy. Therefore, women should measure their blood pressure at their first prenatal appointment.
During ageing and menopause, high blood pressure symptoms, like fatigue and headache, can overlap with those of menopause. Hence, start regularly monitoring your blood pressure and don’t wait for the symptoms to show.
Top Causes of Hypertension
Most cases of hypertension are known as “primary hypertension” or essential hypertension since there’s no identifiable cause. Secondary hypertension occurs from an underlying health condition, such as thyroid problems, kidney disease, obstructive sleep apnea, adrenal tumours, and some medications and illicit drugs.
But even if the exact cause isn’t entirely clear, hypertension risk factors still exist. And probably the most significant risk factor is being overweight or obese.
Here are the top causes of hypertension:
Having Too Much Sodium and Too Little Potassium in Your Diet
A study shows that excess sodium (table salt) in your diet causes the onset of hypertension, irrespective of gender and ethnic group. In addition, increased salt consumption provokes water retention, thus leading to high blood flow in arterial vessels and salt-sensitive hypertension.
Potassium helps balance the concentration of sodium in your body. Too little potassium leads to a sodium buildup.
Being Overweight or Obese
Extra weight puts an extra strain on your heart, forcing it to pump harder. As a result, it increases pressure on the artery walls, which can become hypertension over time.
Additionally, studies prove that obesity causes diabetes, inflammation, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis, which are disorders that can coexist with hypertension.
Smoking, vaping, and chewing tobacco makes your body vulnerable to hypertension. Secondhand smoke or passive smoking also increases your risk.
The chemicals in tobacco can damage the arterial lining, causing them to narrow and harden. It ultimately results in high blood pressure.
The older you are, the more likely you are to get hypertension. That is because the blood vessels gradually lose some elasticity with age, which can contribute to increased blood pressure.
Heredity also plays a role. If your parents, siblings, or close blood relatives have hypertension, there’s an increased chance that you will get it too.
Studies reveal that stress causes repeated blood pressure elevations and overproduce vasoconstricting hormones. A surge of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, temporarily makes the heart beat faster with more pressure.
In addition, people react to stress in unhealthy ways, including eating high-fat, high-cholesterol, and high-calorie foods and smoking and drinking alcohol, all of which increase your risk of developing hypertension.
People who are not physically active are 30–50% more likely to develop hypertension than their active counterparts. When you’re leading a sedentary life, you’re at risk of being overweight or obese, putting you in double jeopardy.
How to Know Your Hypertension?
The best way to know if you have hypertension is to measure your blood pressure levels. A blood pressure reading in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) falls into four general categories.
- Normal blood pressure: Less than 120 (systolic) and 80 (diastolic)
- Elevated blood pressure: 120 to 129 (systolic) and below 80 (diastolic)
- Stage 1 hypertension: 130 to 139 (systolic) or 80 to 89 (diastolic)
- Stage 2 hypertension: 140 or higher (systolic) or 90 (diastolic)
- Hypertensive crisis (requires immediate medical attention): Higher than 180 (systolic) or 120 (diastolic)
If your readings indicate an unhealthy BP, your doctor recommends some tests for a definite diagnosis.
Blood and urine tests check for underlying conditions, such as cholesterol and blood sugar levels, that can cause or worsen hypertension. You may also have lab tests to check your liver, thyroid and kidney function.
A noninvasive diagnosis with sound waves to obtain detailed images of the beating heart and how blood moves through the heart and its valves.
An electrocardiogram is a quick test to tell how fast or slow your heart is beating. Moreover, it can help detect any extra strain or pressure exertion on your heart.
Ambulatory monitoring is a longer blood pressure monitoring test to check blood pressure at regular intervals over six or 24 hours.
Dash Diet Plan for Hypertension
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or DASH is a balanced and flexible eating plan to lower or control hypertension. It is a heart-healthy diet for hypertension patients, rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods and lower in sodium, saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol.
Research says that the DASH diet shows the most significant effect on hypertension, lowering blood pressure levels within two weeks of starting the plan. Not only did it reduce blood pressure, but low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol” were lower, too.
DASH diet chart for hypertension advocates the reduction of sodium to about 1500 mg/day. The less salt you consume, the more significant the decrease in blood pressure. A typical serving guide of the DASH diet for hypertension patients is as follows:
- Vegetables: about 4-5 servings per day
- Fruits: about 4-5 servings per day
- Carbohydrates (mainly whole grains): about seven servings per day
- Low-fat dairy products: about two servings per day
- Lean meat products: about two or fewer servings per day
- Nuts and seeds: 2 to 3 times per week
Here is a closer look at the foods to be included in high blood pressure diet:
Bananas contain high potassium, which is vital in managing high blood pressure. Potassium also helps balance the sodium level in your body.
Berries and Beets
Berries like blueberries and strawberries offer natural compounds called flavonoids, which might prevent hypertension and lower high blood pressure. In addition, the nitric oxide in beets can help dilate blood vessels and, thus, lower blood pressure.
DASH recommends more servings of plant proteins, such as nuts, seeds, legumes, and soy products. In moderation, you can eat animal proteins like lean meats, low-fat dairy, eggs, and fish. However, severely restrict processed and cured meats.
Studies suggest that short-term consumption of cinnamon helps dilate and relax the blood vessels, which may help regulate hypertension in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Good fats provide essential fatty acids, prevent inflammation, and promote overall health. However, limit bad fats such as vegetable shortenings, margarine, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Some of the good fats you can include in DASH are:
- Nuts like pistachio
- Hemp Seeds
- Flax seeds
- Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Olive oil
The HealthifyMe Note
A hypertension diet plan follows a “more of this, less of that” approach. For instance, consume more foods rich in potassium and fibre but eat less salt, saturated fat, and refined carbs. The DASH eating plan is a means of combating high blood pressure and requires no special foods. While rich in vegetables, fruits, fat-free or low-fat dairy, whole grains, and lean proteins, DASH restricts red meat, tropical oils, salt, added sugars, and full-fat dairy.
Diet Chart Plan for Hypertension Patient
The Mediterranean-style diet is one of the best if you’re looking for an eating plan that closely monitors blood pressure levels. However, with any diet chart, ask yourself how long you can stay on this. If you can’t stick with a diet plan, in the long run, you’ll be right back where you started after a couple of months.
Here is a sample 7-day diet chart plan for high blood pressure:
#1 Day Diet Plan
- Breakfast: A bowl of oats with milk + 1 banana
- Lunch: 1 cup mixed bean salad with 1/2 cup brown rice
- Dinner: Whole wheat carrot dosa with sambar
- Snacks: A handful of roasted almonds or plain cashews + Hibiscus tea
#2 Day Diet Plan
- Breakfast: 1 cup vegetable oats upma + 1 cup green tea
- Lunch: 1 cup roasted or baked sweet potato salad + baked chicken and boiled vegetables
- Dinner: 2 wheat dosa or millet dosa + 1 cup of dal curry
- Snacks: 1 cup of cucumber and carrot sticks + hummus
#3 Day Diet Plan
- Breakfast: 2 spinach paratha + 1/2 cup raita + 2 digestive biscuits + black tea
- Lunch: Pan-fried fish + 1 cup quinoa + 1/4 cup tomato chutney
- Dinner: Lentil soup with a green salad
- Snacks: 1 cup of blueberries or strawberries with non-fat greek yoghurt
#4 Day Diet Plan
- Breakfast: Peanut butter and banana smoothie bowl
- Lunch: Quinoa salad with nuts
- Dinner: 1/2 cup boiled legumes + 1/2 cup Poha upma
- Snacks: 2 teaspoons dry roasted flax seed or sunflower seed + 1 cup mixed fruits
#5 Day Diet Plan
- Breakfast: 2 glasses jeera water (within 15 minutes of waking up) + almonds (7 soaked) + walnuts (2 soaked) + 2 toast with scrambled eggs
- Lunch: 1 bowl palak/fish curry + 1 bowl brown rice + 1/2 bowl curd
- Dinner: 1 cup Mediterranean chicken salad
- Snacks: 1 medium orange
#6 Day Diet Plan
- Breakfast: 1 cup banana oatmeal + 1 cup green tea
- Lunch: 2 roti with chickpea curry
- Dinner: 1 1/2 cups mixed greens + 1 bowl carrot tomato beetroot soup
- Snacks: 1 glass of coconut water + 1 cup air-popped unsalted popcorn
#7 Day Diet Plan
- Breakfast: 2 pieces of carrot dhokla + 1 multigrain paratha + black tea
- Lunch: 1 bowl sabzi + 2 oats roti + 1/2 cucumber (sliced)
- Dinner: 2 mini vegetable wraps + grilled chicken breast
- Snacks: Tomato and watermelon salad
HealthifyMe’s coaches will work with you to create a personalised hypertension diet plan knowing exactly how your body uniquely reacts to foods.
The customised diet and workout plan addresses multiple factors that influence your hypertension, such as cuisine choices, food allergies, food intolerances, lifestyle behaviours, BMI, metabolism, genetic factors, and medical history.
The goal of the Pro Plan is to design guidelines that are specific to your health concerns. For example, for hypertension, your nutrition assessment will consider nutrients that impact blood pressure, such as sodium, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium.
The symptoms of hypertension are hard to spot compared to other diseases. However, if blood pressure readings remain consistently above 140/90mmHg it is a good warning sign to make necessary lifestyle changes.
Dietary recommendations for lowering blood pressure, such as the DASH diet, focus on reducing your intake of sodium, trans fat, saturated fat, and alcohol.
In addition, some hypertensive people might require a weight-loss diet, especially obese people and people with diabetes. And that’s why having a personalised diet plan is extremely necessary.
HealthifyMe can help you reach the fittest version of yourself without compromising on your favourite foods. The latest flagship fitness plan will deliver the correct hypertension diet chart knowing your lifestyle habits, dietary preferences, and routines. Hence, it becomes easier for you to follow and see the results more quickly. However, remember that this hypertension management journey is yours, so you need a unique diet plan.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What foods increase hypertension?
A. High sodium condiments, foods with saturated and trans fats, fast food, fried food, deli meats, cured meats, and salted snacks increase blood pressure. Canned, frozen, and processed foods can be convenient, but the large amounts of added salt worsen hypertension. Along with the foods mentioned, sodas are full of processed sugar and empty calories, increasing the risk of high blood pressure.
Q. What diet is best for hypertension?
A. A balanced diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean protein is one of the most effective ways to manage hypertension. Furthermore, you can follow the DASH diet, a heart-healthy eating plan, to treat or prevent high blood pressure. When following the DASH diet, choosing foods low in sodium and saturated fat and rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fibre, and protein is essential.
Q. Is the Keto diet safe for hypertension?
A. When an obese or overweight person loses weight on low-carb diets like Keto, their blood pressure improves. However, not everyone has to follow a Keto diet to manage hypertension. If you’re on blood pressure medication and start a Keto diet, there’s a risk of experiencing low blood pressure. Work with a doctor or nutritionist to monitor and manage your blood pressure with diets like Keto.
Q. Can hypertension be cured with diet and exercise?
A. Healthy diet and exercise can help prevent elevated blood pressure from turning into hypertension. For those who have hypertension, following a DASH diet and regular fitness routine can bring hypertension down to safer levels. While there is no cure for hypertension, making healthy lifestyle changes and taking BP-lowering medications as prescribed by your doctor is essential.
Q. How does a salt diet induce hypertension in the body?
A. Normally, the kidneys regulate your blood’s sodium and water levels. However, overeating salt can disturb this balance, causing high sodium levels in the blood. It leads to water retention and increases blood volume in your bloodstream. As blood volume increases, the pressure within blood vessels begins to rise, and the heart needs to work harder to pump blood. Over time it leads to hypertension.
Q. What are the 5 symptoms of hypertension?
A. The concerning feature of hypertension is that it often has no apparent symptoms. However, look for signs like vision troubles, heart palpitations, fatigue, headache, and shortness of breath. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should see their doctor immediately.
Q. What is the leading cause of hypertension?
A. Although the exact cause is unknown, risk factors like obesity, high salt diet, excessive alcohol consumption, little to no physical activity, genetics, and stress lead to hypertension. In addition, other health conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, end-stage renal disease, and aldosteronism, contribute to developing high blood pressure.
Q. Can hypertension be cured?
A. There is no cure for hypertension yet. However, lifestyle changes, diet, and medications can help restore your blood pressure to safe levels. If you’re overweight, losing excess weight can control and manage hypertension. Those with stage 1 hypertension can follow a heart-healthy diet with less salt, exercise regularly, and limit alcohol to prevent the transition to stage 2 hypertension and hypertensive crisis.
Q. How long can you live with hypertension?
A. The changes in life expectancy related to hypertension is often a result of smoking and obesity. Those who follow a healthy lifestyle and medications may not see a drastic cut in their life span. However, the life expectancy maybe five to seven years shorter than those without high blood pressure.
Q. What are the warning signs of hypertension?
A. Early stages of hypertension do not show any noticeable warning signs. However, severe hypertension can cause anxiety, chest pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and muscle tremors. Some may also experience buzzing in the ears, early morning headaches, vision troubles, irregular heart rhythms, and nosebleeds.
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