What ‘prehypertension’ is and how to beat it

You may have heard of the term “hypertension”, but many are not aware of the term “prehypertension”.

Being prehypertensive means that you are very likely to become hypertensive if you do not make lifestyle changes.

This is usually the case if your blood pressure reading registers a top number consistently ranging from 120 to 139 mmHg, or your bottom number consistently ranges from 80 to 89 mmHg.

Yet, being aware of your condition may not necessarily translate to efficient healthy living practices.

Many people are aware of healthy lifestyle choices but still fail to initiate the necessary changes. Lack of intrinsic motivation and overwhelming information can be contributing factors.

Thus, we have formulated a simple way to remember the basic steps on how to deal with prehypertension under the categories of fitness, food and fun.

Fitness

Being overweight increases the risk of prehypertension. Research has shown that with some weight loss efforts, prehypertension can be reduced by 20% among overweight individuals.

Leading an active lifestyle not only helps you lose weight but also helps you to tame prehypertension.

If you have high blood pressure, even 30 minutes of brisk walking most days of the week can help reduce your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg. But be consistent in your fitness pursuit for the best results.

Food

Decrease your salt intake by reducing the amount of processed foods you eat. Also remember to use herbs or spices instead of adding salt for flavour. Keep a food journal to monitor your eating habits and record any cheat meals.

This keeps you accountable and in control over your food intake. Read food labels and stick to your healthy-eating plan even when you’re dining out.

Practice a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products with minimal saturated fat. Increasing the amount of potassium in your food can also help tame prehypertension.

However, this can sometimes be challenging to practice. So, start gradually and be consistent.

If you do not usually eat much vegetables, increase the amount by just one spoonful.

If you do not usually consume fruits, add a potassium-rich fruit to your diet once a week such as a banana dipped in dark chocolate over the weekend.

Both these food items have been said to help with lowering hypertension.

Fun

The emotions we experience are linked to our health through a vicious cycle. The more fear and anger we have, the higher the risk of having prehypertension.

Research has shown that emotions such as anger and anxiety can increase blood pressure to variable degrees.

Stress can increase stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine and in the long run, can increase the likelihood of developing high blood pressure.

Take time every day to have some fun “me time” and “self-care” routine. Make caring for your well-being a priority.

Laughter, happiness and a sense of humour have been found to decrease stress hormones, reduce artery inflammation and increase HDL, the “good” cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Watching positive and funny shows either on TV or the internet is very beneficial.

Be more flexible in your thinking. Those who are rigid can sometimes find themselves easily stressed out when their expectations do not match their realities.

Alter your expectations to adapt with your current reality. A helpful tip would be to remind yourself that although there may be some aspects in life we may not always have control over, we can always control how we choose to react to them.

Our physical health is very much connected to our mental and emotional health and vice versa.

Therefore prioritising time for self-care is one of the most important investments you can make in life with a healthy return that no amount of money can buy.

This article is written in collaboration with Naluri and first appeared in hellodoktor.com. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.