On today’s Open Health Day show we discussed Blood Pressure, something that affects so many people. Let me start by explaining what exactly high blood pressure is:

High blood pressure is any reading over 140/90 mm Hg, which puts you at higher risk of a heart attack or stroke. Experts say that losing weight, walking, eating healthily, avoiding salt, and stress relief are quick ways to lower your blood pressure. Also quitting smoking, decreasing alcohol intake, and reducing caffeine consumption are good long-term strategies to lower your blood pressure.

On today’s show I was joined by Dr Gurmeet Singh, who has more than seven years work experience as a local GP. He has awards in Community Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, ENT and Forensic Medicine and was awarded the National Merit Scholarship by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. He is now a Managing Partner of Lynwood Medical Centre where he undertakes various clinical responsibilities.

Dr Singh said that in relation to blood pressure we could all be a bit more pro-active about taking care of keeping it a healthy level by getting a self-testing machine for ourselves to keep at home and take our rates in the morning and at night. He said a lot of people were worried about taking their measurements in the morning, as they often found the readings to be much higher at that time of day. However, he said that there was no need to panic and one should take at least 2 readings and when visiting the Doctor take both the readings with them.

Dr Singh also said it was very important for every person to undertake 30 minutes of brisk exercise every day, and walking the dog does not count (as you can stop and start again and again)! He said that power walking was good exercise and should be done as much as one could. He emphasises the need for a good diet, as many of us like oily and fatty foods, we had to cut down and reduce our salt intake. He also encouraged viewers to drink more fluids like water, juices and green teas, all of which are very good for people with high blood pressure.

My Mum suffers from high blood pressure and it’s incredibly annoying because you don’t realise how dangerous it is until you hear more about it. I have been to countless clinics with her and some of the most common advice we are given, that actually does help is below and I genuinely hope that if you or your loved one suffers from High BP this helps you too.

1. Just Breathe

As simple as it sounds, breathing is an effective technique to lower blood pressure. Slow breathing and meditative practices such as yoga can help decrease the stress hormones that elevate renin — a kidney enzyme that raises blood pressure.  You need to sit in a comfortable chair with armrests. Your body should be as relaxed as possible. Place one hand on a part of your chest or preferably your abdomen. Watch your hand rise and fall with each breath…feel the breath as it moves into your abdomen. This should be repeated seven times and can become a daily habit by doing deep breathing 10 minutes in the morning.

2. Soak Up the Sun

Any excuse for a holiday!! (Just joking, my boss will not be happy reading this). But it’s a fact that sunny days not only boost our mood, but they can help keep our blood pressure in check. When exposed to sunlight, small amounts of nitric oxide are transported from the skin to the circulation lowering blood vessel tone. This decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

3. Go for a Brisk Walk

Enjoy a nice, sunny day or in our case a cold winter day and go for a brisk walk, for aerobic physical activity at least 30 minutes per day. Even 10 minutes a day can make all the difference. Preferred cardiovascular exercises include: walking, running, cycling, and swimming.

4. Drink Tea

Sipping on not one but four cups of tea daily can help control blood pressure. A study presented at the European Society of Hyper tension in Milan found those who avoided coffee and tea consumption all together had the highest rates of blood pressure, pulse pressure, and heart rate. Those who drank tea the most often, between one to four cups a day, had the lowest systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings, as well as the lowest pulse pressure and heart rate.

5. Listen to Music

Listening to your favourite song not only will improve your feeling of well-being but also lower your blood pressure.