High blood pressure warning: ‘Table sauces’ can spike your reading – two worst culprits

High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading

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High blood pressure is a common condition whereby the pressure in your blood vessels is unusually high. High blood pressure is pernicious because it’s marked by an absence of symptoms and can precipitate a heart attack if left untreated. The key to controlling high blood pressure is to modify your diet.

This is easier said than done. The biggest cause of hypertension is consuming too much salt, which often makes its way into foods without your knowledge.

According to Blood Pressure UK, salt often sneaks its way into your meals via “table sauces”.

The charity says ketchup and mustard are among the worst offenders.

Other tips to cut back on salt include:

  • Avoid very salty flavourings
  • Get extra flavour into your recipes
  • Make your own marinades
  • Take the salt shaker off the table.

Why is salt so risky?

Action on Salt, a group concerned with salt and its effects on health, explains: “A high salt diet disrupts the natural sodium balance in the body.

“This causes fluid retention which increases the pressure exerted by the blood against blood vessel walls (high blood pressure).”

According to the health body, for every one gram of salt we cut from our average daily intake, there would be approximately 6,000 fewer deaths from strokes and heart attacks each year in the UK.

“It has been estimated that a reduction in salt intake from 10g a day to 6g will reduce blood pressure and could lead to a 16 percent reduction in deaths from strokes and a 12 percent reduction in deaths from coronary heart disease.”

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Other important dietary tips

According to the NHS, eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure.

“Aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day,” advises the health body.

The health body says that regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time.

Staying within the recommended levels is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure:

  • Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
  • Spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week.

The NHS adds: “Alcohol is also high in calories, which will make you gain weight and can further increase your blood pressure.”

Getting tested

Before you make the necessary changes to your lifestyle, you must first get your reading tested.

In the UK, healthy adults aged over 40 should have their blood pressure checked at least once every five years.

If you’re at an increased risk of high blood pressure, you should have your blood pressure checked more often, ideally once a year.

You can ask for a blood pressure check. You do not have to wait to be offered one.

Blood pressure testing is available:

  • At your GP surgery – by a GP, practice nurse, healthcare assistant or self-service machine
  • At some pharmacies
  • At an NHS Health Check appointment offered to adults aged 40 to 74 in England
  • In some workplaces
  • At a health event.

You can also test your blood pressure at home using a home testing kit.

“Like 24-hour or ambulatory monitoring, this can give a better reflection of your blood pressure,” explains the NHS.

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