High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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High blood pressure is often a direct response to poor lifestyle decisions, with salt consumption being the worst culprit. While it may seem easy enough to address this problem, salt can creep into ostensibly healthy items. According to Hussain Abdeh, Superintendent Pharmacist at Medicine Direct, soluble tablets are a prime offender.
A soluble tablet is a tablet that is designed to be dissolved in water before it is swallowed.
“Many soluble tablets, including vitamins, contain sodium, which is the harmful part of salt,” warns Mr Abdeh.
As he explained, daily doses of these medicines can mean that people are exceeding the maximum recommended intake of salt each day.
“A regular intake of too much salt can have a significant impact on blood pressure, which can increase the risk of serious health issues like heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks.”
The NHS echoes Mr Abdeh’s caution about soluble tables. The health body says they can contain up to 1g of salt per tablet.
“Consider changing to a non-effervescent tablet, particularly if you have been advised to reduce your salt intake,” advises the health body.
According to Mr Abdeh, it’s always best to try and get your intake of vitamins from natural sources whenever possible, such as from healthy food sources like fruit, vegetables, and fish.
“If your doctor advises you to start taking a vitamin supplement because you are deficient in an essential vitamin, you should always read the information that comes with the medication to see the salt/sodium levels contained within them.”
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How much salt should you consume?
According to UK health guidelines, adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day (2.4g sodium) – that’s around one teaspoon.
- One to three years should eat no more than 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
- Four to six years should eat no more than 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
- Seven to 10 years should eat no more than 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
- 11 years and over should eat no more than 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium).
In the UK labels on pre-packed food must say how much salt they contain.
“Look out for the salt content in the everyday foods you buy, and choose lower-salt options,” advises the NHS.
Why is salt so bad?
There is strong evidence indicating that salt intake is more strongly related to the development of hypertension, particularly the rise in blood pressure with age.
This is because a high salt diet disrupts the natural sodium balance in the body, explains Action on Salt, a group concerned with salt and its effects on health
“This causes fluid retention which increases the pressure exerted by the blood against blood vessel walls (high blood pressure),” warns the health body.
It notes that 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.
How do I get tested for high blood pressure?
Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many will not realise it.
The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked.
You can get your blood pressure tested at a number of places, including:
- At your GP surgery
- At some pharmacies
- As part of your NHS Health Check
- In some workplaces.
You can also check your blood pressure yourself with a home blood pressure monitor.
Doing so could save your life.
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