One in three Australians has high blood pressure — so it might affect you or someone you know. Here’s how to handle the pressure!
The maximum amount of sodium you should consume each day to maintain heart health — it’s less than one teaspoon of salt! You can slash sodium intake by cutting back on the salt you add during cooking and at the table. But 75 per cent of the salt in our diets comes from packaged foods, so choose reduced-salt products and minimise your intake of salty foods like sauces, processed meats and savoury snacks.
The respective number of serves of fruit and vegetables you should eat each day. Fruit and veg — particularly tropical fruits, potatoes and tomatoes — are rich in potassium, which blunts the effect of sodium on blood pressure.
A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or less indicates that you are of a healthy weight, which is crucial for healthy blood pressure. Waist circumference is another measurement to consider with weight management — it should be less than 94cm for males or 80cm for females.
1 in 10
The number of high blood pressure cases alcohol is responsible for. To help relieve this 'hypertension', females should have no more than one standard drink per day, and males no more than two. A standard drink contains 10g of alcohol, which equates to just 100ml of wine or 285ml of full-strength beer.
That’s a normal blood pressure reading. The top number (called systole) is a measure of the pressure as your heart contracts and pumps blood throughout your body, and the bottom number (called diastole) is a measure of pressure as your heart relaxes and refills with blood.
High blood pressure is silent — there are usually no symptoms, so regular screening is paramount.
30 to 45 minutes
That’s how much time you should spend doing moderate physical activity at least five days a week to support heart health. It’s the kind of activity that makes you huff and puff, but doesn’t tire you so much that you can’t hold a conversation. Any movement you enjoy will work, so step to it!
High blood pressure: The facts
One in three Australians has high blood pressure.
It is the leading risk factor for developing heart disease.
Having high blood pressure increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes.
Risk factors for high blood pressure include a family history of the condition, consuming too much salt, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, being physically inactive, and having high cholesterol.
In most instances, medication is needed to treat high blood pressure.
Melissa is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with a love of healthy, delicious food. She is passionate about helping others to lead healthier lives and teaching people to use nutrition to better their health.