Blood Pressure
EDP column by Dr Ketan Dhatariya

“At a recent work based medical check up I was told my blood pressure is bordering on high. What can I do to reduce it?"

There are many ways you can help yourself.  Evidence shows that regular exercise can help to lower blood pressure and reduce stress  Aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, which involves using large muscles at a reasonable and sustainable pace for prolonged periods (rather than a quick dash) can, if done regularly and for several months, lower blood pressure by modest amounts.

For someone who's hovering around the upper levels of normal this may be enough to bring the blood pressure into the safe zone (a normal blood pressure is 130/85 or below).  Other changes you can make include changing to your diet, to reduce the amount of salt. Cuttin gout saturated fats will also help you to losing weight if you're overweight.

The best sorts of exercise include, walking, cycling, swimming, rowing and dancing.  You should aim to exercise (or build up gently) to at least 30 minutes every day if you can.  Try and build it up to 5 or more times a week.

Varying what exercise you do will help because it stops you getting bored, uses slightly different muscle groups and reduces the risk of injury. In fact, one of the main aims has to be to do whatever's necessary to keep you exercising a year later, because high blood pressure is a lifelong problem and you're going to have to adopt lifelong changes to keep it under control.

If you attempt to improve your general level of fitness by the time you have your next medical check up, you can be reassured that you have done everything you can.

Medication may be the only answer but give exercise and healthy eating a go first.

As always, ask your GP or pharmacist if you have any conditions that mean that you should not exercise.

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