This month, every doctor was talking about the new blood pressure guidelines by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. Before these, a normal blood pressure would be below 140/90 mm Hg. Now, it should be below 120/80 mm Hg. Due to the new blood pressure guidelines, many more people will be diagnosed with Hypertension. However, The Ministry of Health, Singapore implied that these blood pressure guidelines are more relevant to the American context.
Blood pressure guidelines
Blood pressure is an early indicator of any issues with the heart. If you have noticed, it has 2 numbers separated by a ‘/’. The first number is known as the systolic blood pressure. It is the pressure at which the blood roughly pumps out the blood to the body. If it is too high consistently, it means that the heart has to work extra hard to do its job, and that spells trouble.
The second number, the diastolic blood pressure, is due to the resistance offered by the blood vessels – the arteries that carry the blood to the body. If it is high, it means that the arteries are not in the best of the shape.
Lifestyle choices like intake of salt, cured meat, lack of exercise, and unhealthy diet contribute to a higher blood pressure. But not everybody requires a medication. And so, the blood pressure guidelines are aimed at ensuring that the right person gets treatment.
Stand of MOH on the new blood pressure guidelines
According to the MOH, the lifestyle of an average Singaporean is different than the lifestyle of an average American. The new AHA guidelines are also based on the data gathered from Americans. And so, the new guidelines are more relevant to the American context. Thus, for now, MOH is advising healthcare professionals to stick to the Singaporean guidelines. That said, MOH is going to continue to review the outcomes of the new guidelines and make changes locally if needed.
Why should this matter to you?
You are responsible for your own heart. And so, if you think your lifestyle is not ideal, you should not wait for any changes in the blood pressure guidelines by the MOH. Before you begin, quickly check your BMI.
Now, answer these 5 questions.
- Is your BMI outside the green range?
- Do you smoke even occasionally or do you have alcohol, even a glass of wine, 5 times or more in a week?
- Do you have bacon/sausages/cured meat frequently?
- Do you walk less than 3000 steps on an average in a day?
- Are you stressed at work?
If the answer to even one of these questions is yes, you are at a risk of developing hypertension.
Lifestyle modifications for blood pressure control
If you feel that you are at a risk of developing hypertension, there are essentially three things you need to work on
- Mental health. If you are stressed all the time, you need to find a way to tackle this. For some, running helps. For others, talking to others works wonders. Yoga is a good option if you want to relax your mind. But if the work-related stress is getting too much, talk to your boss about it. Maybe a change of responsibilities is what is needed. And, the most important thing, get adequate sleep. 6-8 hours of good sleep is needed for an adult human being.
- Diet. The BMI calculator must have shown you the recommended daily calorie intake. Stick to it. Cut down on salts and cured meats. Include plenty of vegetables in your diet. Substitute the full-fat dairy products with the low-fat variety. Follow the DASH eating plan. It is recommended by nutritionists worldwide. Drink enough water, especially in Singapore.
- Exercise. If you can run daily, it is amazing. However, target covering at least 10,000 steps in a day if you cannot. Any kind of exercise is good, as long as it is done properly and within limits. So, get this aspect sorted.
Mums and dads, high blood pressure is no longer a condition of the elderly. So it is better to get in shape before it hits you.
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