Health hints: heart disease & high blood pressure

Heart disease and high blood pressure symptoms can sometimes be alleviated by making healthier lifestyle choices. Here are a few tips on how to do it – just be sure to consult your doctor before implementing them.

Health hints: heart disease & high blood pressure

Heart disease

Evidence shows that making significant changes to exercise and diet can not only stop heart disease from advancing, but also undo some of the damage.

  • Protect your heart by eating more dark green, leafy vegetables; lean meat; and wholegrain cereals and breads. These are all good sources of folic acid and help to reduce levels of homocystine, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Alternatively, take a folic acid supplement.
  • Include more fish in your diet. The beneficial fatty acids found in oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, support heart health by reducing the risk of blood clotting. They can also help to reduce high blood cholesterol levels.
  • Reduce the risk of angina (severe chest pain, which can be an early warning sign of a heart attack) by avoiding stress. Doing relaxation exercises or meditating may help you to reduce the stress in your life.
  • Take hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) supplements to improve blood and oxygen supply to the heart.
  • Drink cranberry juice. It has antioxidants that help protect against plaque build-up in the arteries.

Note: Dangerous interactions between a drug and a vitamin or herb are rare, but they can happen. Always tell your doctor exactly what you are taking.

High blood pressure

Some non-drug therapies can help reduce high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Try these earth-wise remedies to avoid the possible unpleasant side effects of prescription drugs.

  • Discuss with your doctor the possibility of making lifestyle changes – such as exercising more, drinking less alcohol and giving up cigarettes – to reduce or eliminate your dependence on medication for high blood pressure.
  • Consider becoming a vegetarian. Generally speaking, vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressure and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. This is due to their higher intake of fibre, complex carbohydrates, and the vitamins and nutrients in fruit and vegetables that help to keep blood pressure at a normal level.
  • Being overweight is a prime cause of high blood pressure. Just losing the extra kilograms can help reduce your blood pressure. Focus on exercise and healthy eating rather than going on a diet.
  • A combination of high salt and low potassium produces high blood pressure in some people, so take a two-pronged approach by cutting down on salt and boosting your potassium intake. Bananas, wholegrain cereals, broad beans, potatoes, avocados and orange juice are all good natural sources of potassium.
  • Go for a brisk half-hour walk every day. Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent heart disease.

While heart disease and high blood pressure are serious health issues, you may be able to minimize the impact that they have on your life by adopting a healthier lifestyle. But remember: it is always best to talk to your doctor before trying something new.

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