About 20 million French adults suffer from hypertension. Because it can have serious health consequences, it must be treated as soon as it is diagnosed. But drugs are no longer essential.
High blood pressure is no longer systematically associated with medication. This may be your case if your hypertension is between 140/90 and 150/100 at the doctor’s office, but only if the value is confirmed as a self-measurement or as an outpatient measurement over 24 hours, and if you do not have any other metabolic disorders (diabetes…).
In fact, a few months ago, the American Heart Association published a report showing the effectiveness of lifestyle measures to delay treatment and reduce medication doses when they become essential.
Dealing with stress
Although not the main cause of high blood pressure, stress can aggravate it, especially in people who are exposed to occupational stress, tantrums, or have an internalized temperament. A series of studies have shown the effectiveness of “cardiac coherence” in reducing stress-related high blood pressure.
Cardiac coherence is a rhythmic breathing: breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds, stop for a while, and then exhale through your nose or mouth for 5 seconds, focusing on your breath.
The exercise should last 5 minutes, the time need to balance the nervous system that regulates our blood pressure and heart rate. Ideally, practice it three times a day.
Often mentioned to reduce stress, yoga, acupuncture and relaxation have not shown comparable effects.
Engage in physical activity
Physical activity softens the arterial walls and increases the capacity of blood vessels to dilate. As a result, blood pressure drops.
After forty years of age and with hypertension, it is necessary to do an exercise test with the doctor before starting.
Choose endurance sports such as swimming, aquabike, cycling on fairly flat ground, walking, running in moderate weather conditions.
Avoid resistance sports, squash, tennis…
The rate must gradually increase: 10 minutes every other day at first, gradually reaching 30-45 minutes a day, or at least five times a week.
If you smoke, avoid cigarettes one hour before and after physical activity: nicotine can increase blood pressure.
By causing blood vessels to contract, alcohol increases the pressure of blood on the arterial walls.
Alcohol provides empty calories that make you fat and being overweight does not go well with high blood pressure.
The objective is to limit ourselves to two units of alcohol (one unit: 10 cl of wine or 25 cl of beer) per day for a woman, three units for a man.
Reduce salt consumption
In 40% of hypertensive people, and especially after age 45, excess salt can raise blood pressure because it causes water to flow out of cells and tissues into the blood, increasing blood volume.
Limit yourself to a maximum of 6 g of salt per day: forget the salt shaker, avoid salty foods such as appetizers, deli meats, certain cheeses (goat cheese, blue cheese…).
Remember that rusks and bread are big sources of salt, up to 30% of our daily intake. Do not exceed 150 g of bread (just over half a stick) or rusks per day.
Remember that most industrial foods – ready-made meals, canned food, cooking aids, soup bags… – are salty. Depending on the brand, the salt content of the same product, such as a processed cheese or prepared dish, can vary by a factor of two.
Namely: many manufacturers have reduced salt in some of their products.
There are simple steps, such as rinsing canned vegetables in clean water, which remove some of the salt.
Finally, do not hesitate to read the labels: they indicate either the salt value – sometimes indicated “sodium chloride” – or more often the sodium value that you will have to multiply by 2.5 to know the real amount of salt in the food.
Carbonated waters are also often salty. Most often they are sodium bicarbonates.
Smoking a cigarette causes blood pressure to rise occasionally and, in the long run, promotes the aging of the arteries.
That’s why quitting smoking can help delay the need for medication.