Have you checked your blood pressure lately? If not then it is never too late. According to a study in the United States, 1 in every 3 individuals has high blood pressure. 25 percent of the population in urban India suffers from high blood pressure. 

Understanding High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension is the tension in the arteries which carry the blood from the heart to all parts of the body. Hypertension is a serious disease. It can, over due course of time, damage blood vessel walls and increase the risk of heart attack, kidney diseases, eye damage, and strokes.

Normal blood pressure is between 120/80 and a high blood pressure level is above 130/80. Anything in between the normal and high range is termed as elevated pressure and needs to be taken care of.

Causes of Hypertension

There are no specific causes that doctors have come up with which they can associate with Hypertension. It is generally a mix of many causes that lead to a high blood pressure level. Certain factors increase the risk of high blood pressure. These are the primary or idiopathic hypertension whose causes are basically unknown and there is no cure.

  • Obesity
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Stressful lifestyle along with depression
  • Taking extra salt in food

There is also secondary Hypertension which is caused by conditions like:

  • Kidney problems or kidney damage
  • Preeclampsia during pregnancy
  • Adrenal gland disorders

High blood pressure is caused by Insulin Resistance or too much insulin. The metabolic syndromes like high blood sugar, high cholesterol or belly fat are all because of insulin resistance.

The Role of Insulin Resistance  and Potassium Levels in Hypertension

  • Makes the arteries stiff that makes the blood pressure go high
  • It causes  sodium retention
  • Leads to depletion of potassium

Since sodium and Potassium work together; a high sodium level will lower the potassium level. Potassium deficiency causes hypertension. Lower consumption of vegetables creates the potassium deficiency.

The main area here is to focus on Insulin resistance and check the insulin levels. How?

  • By having a lot of salads and vegetables
  • Cutting down on sugar
  • Intermittent Fasting
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoiding alcohol and smoking

Addressing the root cause, i.e. insulin resistance can address the symptoms of hypertension.

Role of Potassium and blood pressure

Potassium balances out the negative effects of salt. Kidneys help to control blood pressure by controlling the amount of fluid stored in the body. When this fluid becomes more, the blood pressure rises. People who already have high blood pressure can lower their systolic (top number) blood pressure by increasing their potassium intake.

Eating foods rich in potassium can help reduce the effects of sodium. Potassium-rich foods are helpful in managing high blood pressure. Potassium lessens the effect of sodium. So the more potassium one eats, the more sodium they lose through urine. Potassium helps ease the tension in the blood vessel walls, thus reducing the pressure level.

But increased potassium can be harmful to those with certain kidney ailments or those having certain medications. It should always be discussed with your doctor before making any changes in your diet.

Some foods with high potassium levels are apricots, avocado, green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, lima beans, potatoes, peas, oranges, mushrooms, raisins, dates, tomatoes, prunes, and molasses.

Management of Hypertension

The simplest, yet the most difficult change one needs to make in managing Hypertension is making Lifestyle changes. This includes changes in diet and physical activity. Studies recommend that doctors should provide medication to only those patients with stage 1 hypertension who have already experienced a mild stroke or if they are at a high risk of a heart attack based on factors like the presence of diabetes.

Nevertheless, a change in diet is necessary.

A diet which is high in fruits, vegetables, and fiber and is low in saturated fat and sodium is recommended for people with high blood pressure.

Apart from diet, exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week and restricting alcohol intake and increasing the water intake is recommended.

Other than this, stress relief practices like meditation, yoga and other techniques of relaxation prove quite beneficial in lowering blood pressure.