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What is hypertension?
Hypertension is otherwise known as high blood pressure. This is a condition where the heart and arteries in your body are functioning at a higher than normal pressure, causing undue stress to your circulatory system.
When you look at your blood pressure machine, there is a SYS and a DIA.
SYS (systolic pressure) refers to the pressure of your artery when your heart is squeezing or contracting. This number is usually the bigger of the two.
DIA (diastolic pressure) refers to the pressure of your artery when your heart is relaxed.
When your blood pressure machine shows the SYS number to be greater than 140mmHg OR a DIA number greater than 90mmHg , then there might be a chance of high blood pressure. Visit your family doctor for further review to confirm the diagnosis.
Who are at risk of having hypertension?
- Obese or overweight patients
- Sedentary lifestyle or low physical inactivity
- Diet that is too saltish and high in saturated and trans fat
- Increasing age
- Family history of hypertension
- Other medical conditions like diabetes or kidney disease
Hypertension is so common in Singapore. Based on 2017 data, hypertension occurs in more than 20% of our adults 18 to 69 years old. That’s 1 in 5 adults.
Based on a study published on nature review, in 2015 alone, 8.5million deaths were associated with high blood pressure worldwide 
What are the Risks of Hypertension?
I feel perfectly healthy now. Indeed, a large majority of patients with hypertension do not have symptoms. But this does not mean you are well!
Multiple large scale studies have found that with every 20mmHg increase in systolic pressure and 10mmHg increase in diastolic pressure , there is a doubling in the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
So while you may be feeling perfectly fine now, if you leave this pressure untreated, you are putting yourself at risk of getting a stroke or heart attack years down the road.
Steps to take to reduce your blood pressure the natural way
1) Stop smoking
Quitting can lower your blood pressure and heart rate almost immediately. Within 24 hours, your risk of heart attack will start to decline.
Exercise has a tremendous effect on lowering blood pressure. Studies have shown that exercise alone can reduce 5-10mmHg of your blood pressure.
Health promotion board Singapore has recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week for good health.
What sort of exercise would be recommended?
A good mix of aerobic activities with resistance training would be ideal.
Brisk walking or running 2-3 times a week combined with light resistant band training or weights training 2 times a week is also a nice combination.
3) Sleep early and reduce stress.
Having a stressful lifestyle increases the chance of you turning to smoking and alcohol as a form of escape. In addition, inadequate or stressful life situations can increase the release of the stress hormone in your body which can cause a tightening of your blood vessels and therefore a rise of your blood pressure.
So, try to sleep early and reduce your stress by exercising, meditating or spending more time doing activities your enjoy and love to reduce your blood pressure.
4) Watch what you eat
Reduce sodium, fat and sugar intake. The American Heart Association has dubbed six type of common food where high amounts of sodium may be lurking - the “ salty six” are namely
- breads and rolls
- cold cuts and cured meats
In general, take more fruits and vegetables and whole grains and drink plenty of plain water.
Of course, when natural methods fail, your doctor may recommend medications to help you control your hypertension. Do consult your doctor for a detail treatment protocol.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)