Published on 21 Oct 2021
Most Singaporeans love their hawker fare – hokkien mee, satay, rojak and all things delicious. But did you know that with a dinner like that, you would have consumed about 4000mg of sodium? That is almost twice the recommended daily intake of sodium for adults in Singapore, before even taking into account dipping sauces!
In Singapore, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a problem for almost 1 in 4 adults aged 30 to 69. When left untreated, high blood pressure can worsen and lead to serious health complications such as stroke and heart attack. High blood pressure also damages tiny blood vessels in the body, affecting your kidneys, nerves, brain and even eyesight.
If you have recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may be looking for ways to keep it in check. Alongside taking prescribed medication from your doctor, here are some lifestyle changes that you can adopt for a healthier you.
Because a high sodium intake puts you at a higher risk of hypertension, maintain your sodium consumption to the recommended daily intake of 2000mg. This is about equal to one teaspoon of table salt. There are many smartphone apps in the market that can help you to keep track of how much sodium you are eating. Apps, like MyFitnessPal, can add up the amount of salt you have eaten in a day, and some may even alert you to over-consumption.
You will soon become familiar with the sodium content of foods that should be eaten in moderation. These types of food include:
Bonus: Many of these smartphone apps can help you keep track of what else is in your food. By being aware of whether you are having too much sugar, or too little protein, you can make adjustments to your diet along the way.
Have you noticed that food in restaurants and coffee shops tend to be saltier than home cooked food? Prepare your own meals to control the amount of salt that goes into them! Here are some low-sodium tips for a nutritious meal at home:
Should you need to eat out, go for low sodium options, such as requesting for no salt on fries. You’ll be surprised to know that it is possible to enjoy the flavour of food without too much salt!
High cholesterol can clog artery walls in the heart, making it work harder to pump blood through the body, resulting in high blood pressure. By keeping your Body Mass Index (BMI) within 18.5kg/m² and 23kg/m², you can lower your risk of hypertension. You may even reduce blood pressure by about 1mm Hg with every kilogram of weight loss¹.
To stay physically active, try aerobic exercises such as dancing, running and swimming to get the heart pumping, or simple strength training to help build muscle mass. You may even go for long walks, or do household chores to supplement activity levels throughout the week.
Did you know that being overweight can also cause sleep apnea (disrupted breathing during sleep), which further raises your blood pressure²?
Lifestyle choices like nicotine, alcohol and caffeine are also associated with an increase in blood pressure, especially in those who are overweight and have existing hypertension. While these products generally create a temporary surge in blood pressure that goes away rather quickly, smoking and drinking alcohol have many other well-documented risks that you’re better off without!
Stress causes our bodies to release hormones that helped our Stone Age ancestors respond to fight-or-flight situations. But in today’s context, stress from responsibilities and a hectic schedule can lead to frequent and temporary spikes in blood pressure that may damage your organs in the same way long-term hypertension does. Step away from unhealthy coping habits like drinking alcohol and overeating, and use the following strategies to help manage your stress levels in your daily life:
All around the world, high blood pressure is given a very serious nickname: The Silent Killer. While it puts you at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and other health problems, people with high blood pressure sometimes experience no symptoms. That is why early detection and management of this condition is important.
In this section, we clear the air on some common myths surrounding high blood pressure so that you can take the right steps to treat it.
Many people with high blood pressure do not experience any noticeable symptoms, and this condition can go unchecked for years. So does it matter? Yes! Think about the water pipes in your house. Constant high pressure can damage the pipes, and this is the same for our bodies.
Over time, high blood pressure can make blood vessels stiff, clogged or damaged. When this happens, the blood supply to our brain, eyes, kidneys and other organs are affected. All this can happen over the years without you feeling like anything is amiss. By treating it early, you can manage hypertension and prevent complications down the road.
Hypertension affects about a quarter of Singaporean adults, aged 30 to 69. It is not a normal part of the ageing process and needs to be monitored and treated.
It is common for patients to miss doses once in a while, but skipping a dose on purpose might make it difficult to monitor and manage your blood pressure regularly. Speak to your doctor on how you can manage side effects, find affordable and suitable alternatives for the prescription you are on, set daily reminders to have your medication and educate yourself on the consequences of not treating high blood pressure.
Some patients, despite their healthy lifestyle, are genetically predisposed to developing high blood pressure. Regular check ups with a family doctor, or even self-monitoring at home with a blood pressure machine, can help with detecting the condition earlier on.
While it is important to see a doctor and take your daily medication for hypertension, there are many things you can do to adopt a healthier, more active lifestyle and manage high blood pressure naturally. Need a little support from your community to get started? Join NTUC Health’s Active Ageing Hubs to meet a community of like-minded active agers, fun exercises and health screenings, or sign up for a senior-friendly workout with our Active Ageing Services!
¹Weight loss and blood pressure (Source)
Exercise your way to good health with our senior-friendly kickboxing, X-Fit or Functional Strength Training classes by calling 6214 3023.
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