High blood pressure or hypertension occurs when the heart works extra hard to pump blood so that it can be distributed to various parts of the body. This essentially means that the pressure being applied to your artery walls is too high during blood circulation. A person with high blood pressure will have a regular blood pressure reading of 140/90 or even higher for several weeks.

The Science Behind High Blood Pressure

What exactly causes high blood pressure is something that still hasn’t been accurately established, but a few triggers correlated with an increase in blood pressure are excessive salt intake, inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables, not being physically active enough, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol and smoking.

Other factors that could contribute to high blood pressure could also be advancing in years, family history of high blood pressure, too much stress and some chronic conditions like kidney disease and sleep apnea.

How You Can Help

If someone in your family has high blood pressure, here’s what you can do to help them manage the condition:

  1. Encourage physical activity and exercise: One of the many causes of hypertension is minimum or no physical activity. People who suffer from this ailment need to move around more.
    An increase in physical activity will elevate their heart rate which makes the heart stronger. This means less effort to pump blood, putting less pressure on arteries and therefore lowering blood pressure.
  2. Encourage weight loss: Losing weight is an excellent way to lower high blood pressure. A reduction of 5 to 10 kilos will bring about a decrease in blood pressure and will also cut down the risk of other health problems.
    Encourage your loved one to lose weight by giving them company when they exercise. You could also help them with meal preparations and diet planning . And keep up the pep talk to motivate them!
  3. Recommend healthy eating options: Poor eating habits are what might have contributed to a diagnosis in the first place.
    So help your family member reduce their sugar consumption (white sugar), refined carbs (most types of bread, noodles, and pasta), and  salt consumption, most of which comes from processed foods and restaurant meals.
    Introduce more leafy vegetables, oats, bananas, fish or fish oil products, fat-free yogurt, and wholegrains.
  4. Discourage smoking: The nicotine in cigarettes raises blood pressure and heart rate, constricts arteries and hardens their walls, causing blood to clot. Discuss these issues to increase awareness of the health risks involved in high blood pressure.
  5. Be alert to stress: Stress in itself has not been shown to cause hypertension but the build-up of stress over a long period could prove harmful. Helping your loved one recognize their stress triggers could prevent further episodes and lower blood pressure and other health complications. You can do this by being there for them during times of high stress and making sure that they remain well-grounded and at peace.

Further, visits to the doctor are always made better when a family member comes along. So if you’re in a position to do so, accompany them on their medical visits.

For a person with high blood pressure, a little bit of support from the family can go a long way in ensuring better health, both physically and mentally, and can make the condition a lot easier to deal with.

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