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High Blood Pressure

According to the Ministry of Health’s National Population Health Survey, around 1 in 4 Singapore residents aged 30 to 69 years old have hypertension (high blood pressure), while more than 1 in 2 Singapore residents aged 60 to 69 years old have hypertension.

Hypertension refers to a condition where blood is pumped around the body with a higher than usual pressure (i.e. 130mmHg/80mmHg).



Blood Pressure

Systolic Blood Pressure

(mmHg)

Diastolic Blood Pressure

(mmHg)

Normal

< 130

< 80

Borderline

130 - 139

80 – 89

High

140

90



Why should you manage your blood pressure?

Hypertension is often called the silent killer as it is only discovered when complications such as stroke or heart attack set in. Though some individuals may suffer from headaches or giddiness when hypertension is severe, these symptoms are not specific to hypertension as it is commonly present in other diseases or even plain fatigue.

Aside from stroke and heart attack, hypertension can also raise the risk of developing heart failure, peripheral artery disease (narrowing of blood vessels of the limb) and kidney failure. 


Risk factors of high blood pressure

Various factors such as age, family history, activity level (physical exercise), obesity, underlying health conditions (e.g. diabetes, kidney disease, etc) can raise your risk to high blood pressure. 

However, when it comes to diet, scientific studies have provided high quality evidence that reducing sodium intake can be beneficial in lowering blood pressure. 

Based on the systematic review and meta-analysis of clinically randomized trials, which consist of 133 studies and 12,197 participants, it was indicated that reducing dietary sodium not only lowers blood pressure in people with existing hypertension, but also lowered blood pressure in people who were not yet at risk.

The benefit of reducing sodium intake on blood pressure is also reflected widely across multiple populations, not just in populations who were initially deemed as salt sensitive, such as the African Americans.

Nonetheless, though our body requires sodium for the normal functioning of our body, sodium can be easily found in almost every food that we consume.


How can we reduce our sodium intake?

Choose fresh/unprocessed food

Fresh/unprocessed food such as wholegrains (e.g. quinoa), fruit, vegetables, beans, seeds, fresh meat and unsalted nuts have lower sodium content than processed foods. 

Tips: Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that provide a complete protein and is packed with various nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals. A cup of cooked quinoa would provide you with about 8 g of protein (~16% of daily needs) and 5 g of fibre (~25% of daily needs)!


Read the food labels

Processed food generally contains more sodium than fresh food as table salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and additives (e.g. sodium bicarbonate) are added during food processing and manufacturing.

If you have to buy processed food, choose options that have the Healthier Choice Symbol (Lower in Sodium), review the Nutrition Information Panel and compare it with food products within the same category to choose the lower sodium alternatives. 


Eating In

Cook with less salt, sauces and seasonings. Instead, season your food with natural herbs and spices such as chilli, ginger, tumeric powder, cinnamon powder instead. 

Tips: Season your food with nutritional yeast flakes. It not only enhance the taste of the food (i.e. provide a cheese-like taste) without added salt, but also provide a wide spectrum of B Vitamins, minerals and also a source of complete protein. 


Dining Out

Always ask for less sauce and salt and avoid finishing up the entire broth or sauces as they usually contain a lot of sodium. 


Can exercising help lower blood pressure?

Aside from reducing your sodium intake, clocking at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week may also help to lower your systolic blood pressure by an average of 4 to 9 mmHg. This efficacy is almost as good as certain blood pressure medications.


Conclusion

All in all, it is important to remember that the only way to detect high blood pressure is to keep track of your blood pressure reading. For a healthier blood pressure, it is essntial to stay active and have a healthy balanced diet.



References


  1. High Blood Pressure . 2021. High Blood Pressure . [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/53/highbloodpressure. [Accessed 17 March 2021].


  1. Huang, L., Trieu, K., Yoshimura, S., Neal, B., Woodward, M., Campbell, N., Li, Q., Lackland, D. T., Leung, A. A., Anderson, C., MacGregor, G. A., & He, F. J. (2020). Effect of dose and duration of reduction in dietary sodium on blood pressure levels: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 368, m315. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m315


  1. Strazzullo, P., & Leclercq, C. (2014). Sodium. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 5(2), 188–190. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.113.005215


  1. Havard T.H. Chan . 2021. Quinoa . [ONLINE] Available at: hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/quinoa/. [Accessed 17 March 2021].


  1. Mayo Clinic . 2019 . Exercise: A drug-free approach to lower blood pressure. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045206 . [Accessed 18 March 2021].

High Blood Pressure

According to the Ministry of Health’s National Population Health Survey, around 1 in 4 Singapore residents aged 30 to 69 years old have hypertension (high blood pressure), while more than 1 in 2 Singapore residents aged 60 to 69 years old have hypertension.

Hypertension refers to a condition where blood is pumped around the body with a higher than usual pressure (i.e. 130mmHg/80mmHg).



Blood Pressure

Systolic Blood Pressure

(mmHg)

Diastolic Blood Pressure

(mmHg)

Normal

< 130

< 80

Borderline

130 - 139

80 – 89

High

140

90



Why should you manage your blood pressure?

Hypertension is often called the silent killer as it is only discovered when complications such as stroke or heart attack set in. Though some individuals may suffer from headaches or giddiness when hypertension is severe, these symptoms are not specific to hypertension as it is commonly present in other diseases or even plain fatigue.

Aside from stroke and heart attack, hypertension can also raise the risk of developing heart failure, peripheral artery disease (narrowing of blood vessels of the limb) and kidney failure. 


Risk factors of high blood pressure

Various factors such as age, family history, activity level (physical exercise), obesity, underlying health conditions (e.g. diabetes, kidney disease, etc) can raise your risk to high blood pressure. 

However, when it comes to diet, scientific studies have provided high quality evidence that reducing sodium intake can be beneficial in lowering blood pressure. 

Based on the systematic review and meta-analysis of clinically randomized trials, which consist of 133 studies and 12,197 participants, it was indicated that reducing dietary sodium not only lowers blood pressure in people with existing hypertension, but also lowered blood pressure in people who were not yet at risk.

The benefit of reducing sodium intake on blood pressure is also reflected widely across multiple populations, not just in populations who were initially deemed as salt sensitive, such as the African Americans.

Nonetheless, though our body requires sodium for the normal functioning of our body, sodium can be easily found in almost every food that we consume.


How can we reduce our sodium intake?

Choose fresh/unprocessed food

Fresh/unprocessed food such as wholegrains (e.g. quinoa), fruit, vegetables, beans, seeds, fresh meat and unsalted nuts have lower sodium content than processed foods. 

Tips: Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that provide a complete protein and is packed with various nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals. A cup of cooked quinoa would provide you with about 8 g of protein (~16% of daily needs) and 5 g of fibre (~25% of daily needs)!


Read the food labels

Processed food generally contains more sodium than fresh food as table salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and additives (e.g. sodium bicarbonate) are added during food processing and manufacturing.

If you have to buy processed food, choose options that have the Healthier Choice Symbol (Lower in Sodium), review the Nutrition Information Panel and compare it with food products within the same category to choose the lower sodium alternatives. 


Eating In

Cook with less salt, sauces and seasonings. Instead, season your food with natural herbs and spices such as chilli, ginger, tumeric powder, cinnamon powder instead. 

Tips: Season your food with nutritional yeast flakes. It not only enhance the taste of the food (i.e. provide a cheese-like taste) without added salt, but also provide a wide spectrum of B Vitamins, minerals and also a source of complete protein. 


Dining Out

Always ask for less sauce and salt and avoid finishing up the entire broth or sauces as they usually contain a lot of sodium. 


Can exercising help lower blood pressure?

Aside from reducing your sodium intake, clocking at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week may also help to lower your systolic blood pressure by an average of 4 to 9 mmHg. This efficacy is almost as good as certain blood pressure medications.


Conclusion

All in all, it is important to remember that the only way to detect high blood pressure is to keep track of your blood pressure reading. For a healthier blood pressure, it is essntial to stay active and have a healthy balanced diet.



References


  1. High Blood Pressure . 2021. High Blood Pressure . [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/53/highbloodpressure. [Accessed 17 March 2021].


  1. Huang, L., Trieu, K., Yoshimura, S., Neal, B., Woodward, M., Campbell, N., Li, Q., Lackland, D. T., Leung, A. A., Anderson, C., MacGregor, G. A., & He, F. J. (2020). Effect of dose and duration of reduction in dietary sodium on blood pressure levels: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 368, m315. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m315


  1. Strazzullo, P., & Leclercq, C. (2014). Sodium. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 5(2), 188–190. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.113.005215


  1. Havard T.H. Chan . 2021. Quinoa . [ONLINE] Available at: hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/quinoa/. [Accessed 17 March 2021].


  1. Mayo Clinic . 2019 . Exercise: A drug-free approach to lower blood pressure. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045206 . [Accessed 18 March 2021].

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