“Silent Murderer.” This is what doctors call high blood pressure. This is because its devastating and irreversible effects occur almost without prior symptoms especially in elders. It affects organs as diverse as the kidneys, the brain and the heart.
Blood pressure is the force that blood exerts on the walls of arteries as it flows through them. When it is too high, it causes damage to these blood vessels and to various organs. Currently, a minimum of 80 and a maximum of 12 (mm Hg) are accepted as normal values.
There are several causes of hypertension, including diet, obesity, alcohol, insulin resistance, kidney function, diabetes, stress, age, smoking, etc. A low-salt diet is the first step a doctor will recommend to prevent hypertension.
When hypertension is prevented, the risk of stroke is reduced by up to 40%. So it’s worth taking certain steps to avoid very serious events such as a stroke.
How to Prevent High Blood Pressure
If you have a family history of high blood pressure or if you have had a few isolated high blood pressure readings, here are some steps to take as soon as possible
1- A Balanced Diet
Diet is one of the most important factors in blood pressure levels. The more balanced your diet, the less likely you are to develop high blood pressure in the short term.
For best results, eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Try to encourage your senior to limit foods high in sugar, trans fats, cholesterol and saturated fats, as these can increase blood pressure or cause new high blood pressure problems in people who have never had high blood pressure before.
2- Reduce or Eliminate Salt
Salt is not only found in the salt shaker on the table, but is contained in almost all foods such as milk, meat, eggs and shellfish. In much larger quantities, it is found in breads, crackers, sauces, bouillon cubes, etc.
The World Health Organization advises reducing sodium consumption to a maximum of 2 g per day (for adults), which is equivalent to about 5 g of table salt per day, or half a teaspoon. It is likely that your elder is consuming much more than this.
Talk to your family doctor about whether your elderly relative is over-salting, use spices to bring out the natural flavor of foods, and replace regular salt with sodium-free salt. This salt contains potassium and should not be confused with salt labeled “light” which may contain sodium. Be sure to read the labels to find out what is in them before giving them to your loved ones.
3- Exercise as a Routine
Exercise is a smart way to keep your elder’s blood pressure down. If he/she already has high blood pressure, regular exercise will help lower it. If he/she doesn’t have high blood pressure, daily exercise will help prevent it.
A little aerobic activity will also help in maintaining a healthy weight, reduce stress, train their heart muscle and feel good.
Exercise is an activity that prevents many diseases, including high blood pressure, and prolongs life more than any therapy or medication.
4- Less or No Alcohol
While drinking alcohol in moderation is not detrimental to their overall health (in fact, it may even have some benefits), it can lead to high blood pressure and other complications if your elderly one starts drinking outside the normal range. It is considered safe to drink no more than one glass of wine (150 mL) neat per day. Given the alcohol content, other stronger drinks such as whiskey should be much more limited.
Drinking this amount of alcohol, and no more, will help keep your senior’s heart strong without increasing his/her blood pressure. Keep in mind that women, because they have less muscle mass to metabolize alcohol than men, need to cut back a bit more on these measures.
There you are! With those tips, you should be able to deal with your elder’s high blood pressure. How old is your senior and how do you care for him/her? Leave your tips in the comments below.