Taking control

SOME ADVICE TO IMPROVE BP CONTROL
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If hypertension is a disease that you cannot fully cure, you can control it through lifestyle changes, good follow-up, and treatment compliance.

CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE HABITS

You can already have a huge influence on reducing your high blood pressure by changing your lifestyle habits1. The most important changes that you can make are :

Start doing a regular physical activity

Doing a regular physical activity is an important part of hypertension management. Of course, you need to define with your doctor the most suitable activity based on your profile. A medical check-up may sometimes be required. Physical activity is very important for your heart and circulatory system. The usual recommendation is 30 minutes of physical activity a day for at least 5 days a week1.

In addition to regular physical activities, such as running, dancing or swimming, you can easily find other ways to get active every day! For example, you can take the stairs instead of the lift, go for a walk with your dog, and park your car further from work and finish your journey by foot. A lot of exercises, advice, tips, and articles about physical activities are available in the coaching section! Let’s meet Marc, the exercise expert.

Hi , I’m Marc.
I’m here to teach you some exercises that are really good for your health. Let’s go!

Try to lose weight

When you are overweight, you are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Therefore, targeting optimal weight is a goal that each hypertensive patient should try to reach. Losing weight complements the action of antihypertensive treatment.

A formula can help you to calculate your recommended weight, which is based on your height. This formula determines body mass index (BMI). You just need to divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in meters) squared. An ideal BMI should be between 18.5 and 25 kg/m².

Your BMI is undefined

Improve your diet

Good dietary and nutritional balance is also a key part of successful high blood pressure management. Diet is easy to improve if you follow these 4 main recommendations1:

1 - Eat at least 5 portions of fruit & vegetables per day (300-400g)
2 - Limit the use of fats and oils (especially animal fats, palm oil)
3 - Limit salt consumption
4 - Eat more fatty fish, 2-3 times a week (salmon, sardines or mackerel)

A lot of recipes, advice, tips, and articles about food are available in the coaching section! Let’s meet Alex, the food expert.

Hi , I’m Alex.
I’m here to teach you how to improve your diet. Are you ready?

Focus on salt

Excessive salt consumption has a negative impact on health and leads to high blood pressure. We eat on average 9-12 grams of salt per day when most international recommendations cite a maximum limit of 6 grams daily1.

There are two types of salt :

  • Visible salt, ie, salt you cook with or use at the table (responsible for 20% of salt consumption)
  • Hidden salt, ie, used by the food industry and naturally occurring in food products (responsible for 80% of salt consumption)

To reduce your salt consumption, you will have to learn how to read food labels and to compare salt levels (knowing that 1 g of sodium equals 2.5 g of salt).

Try some of these tips to reduce your salt consumption !
  • Instead of salt, use spices
  • Taste your meal before deciding to add salt
  • Use less salt in water for cooking
  • Limit consumption of salty cheeses, delicatessen products, and crackers

Reduce your alcohol consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure and hurt your heart and liver. Alcohol consumption can also lower the efficacy of your antihypertensive treatment. Therefore, it is recommended that you limit your consumption of alcohol.

Nowadays, the alcohol limit for men has been lowered to be the same as that for women: it is safest not to regularly drink more than 14 units per week2 and it is better to spread these units across the week.

How can you calculate the number of units you drink per day ? Check these examples:

Stop smoking

Smoking does not increase blood pressure directly, but it is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster and temporarily raises your blood pressure. Stopping smoking will help you to improve your heart health !

Find below some helpful tips on how to stop smoking :

Talk to your GP
Your doctor can do a lot to help you stop smoking :

  • Enrolment in a ‘stop smoking’ clinic
  • Prescribing nicotine replacement therapy

Join your local stop smoking group
Joining a group where there are other people in the same situation as you could be an important motivator to give up smoking.

Find online support
You can find websites with a lot of advice to boost your chances of success whatever method you are using.

Have a support phone number
Keep an emergency number to avoid lighting up your cigarette. Friends or family can do a lot for you!

Consider using a nicotine-replacement therapy
Give yourself a better chance of success by using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). This is often available on prescription from your GP.

Relax

You need to learn how to handle your stress! Stress can from time to time increase your blood pressure and heart rate. In addition, stress can also encourage behaviors that will increase your blood pressure (for example, poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, or drinking more alcohol than usual). Relaxing activities such as Yoga or Taï chi, can help you to reduce your stress, and simple tips can help you to manage it in your daily life !

A lot of exercises, advice, tips, and articles about relaxation are available in the coaching section! Let’s meet Lisa, the relaxation expert !

Hi , I’m Lisa.
Relaxing helps to reduce your blood pressure. Let’s see how you can relax!

Good quality sleep quality is also very important. Sleep helps relax the whole organism, reducing heart rate and blood pressure. We know today that bad sleep can impact the cardiovascular system. Lack of sleep or bad sleep quality will encourage high blood pressure.

Some good tips :

  • Enjoy one daily nap
  • Try to sleep 7-8 hours per night

If you have difficulties sleeping, you should talk with your doctor.
Many solutions exist to improve your sleep!

FOLLOW-UP

Monitoring your own blood pressure at home is very important and can be part of successful hypertension management. Home blood pressure monitoring can help improve follow-up of your blood pressure and also determine if your treatment is appropriate and effective.

First of all, you need to get a home blood pressure monitor to measure your blood pressure every day. You can find one, for example, in a pharmacy.

Then, to get an accurate measure of your blood pressure, you need :

  • To measure blood pressure after 5 minutes of rest and in a sitting position
  • To avoid noisy and stressful places
  • To position the cuff at heart level during measurement
  • To follow any other recommendation in the instructions of your BP monitor

In order to help your doctor manage your hypertension, you can follow the rule of 3s :

  • 3 measurements in the morning, between waking-up and breakfast
  • 3 measurements in the evening, between dinner and the time you go to sleep
  • 3 days before your next appointment with your doctor

In order to help you to monitor your blood pressure, you can download the CONTROL TENSION APPLICATION to your phone! This nice App will help you to record your blood pressure measurement and analyze how your blood pressure is changing.

Simply speaking : CONTROL TENSION is 3 tools in 1 application!

Blood pressure diary
  • Monitor blood pressure daily
  • Visualize your results
Reminders
  • Medication
  • Doctor's appointments
  • Prescription renewals
Lifestlyle advice
  • Quit smoking
  • Healthy diet
  • Physical activity

TREATMENT COMPLIANCE

Taking your meds every day is crucial for controlling your blood pressure, but it is not always easy to remember to take them. But just like brushing your teeth, taking your meds can become part of your daily routine.

What do you need to do if you forget to take your treatment?

  • If you forget it one day, don’t double the dose the next.
  • If you have any doubts, you can call your doctor or discuss things with your pharmacist.
Try some of these tips to help you take your meds
  • Put a memo on your fridge to remind you to take your treatment every day.
  • Take your drugs after brushing your teeth and leave them out to remember (be careful if children are around).
  • Put sticky notes up to remind you, for example, on the bathroom mirror or close to your bed.
  • Use phone applications, such as the Control Tension App, which have automatic reminders.
  • Use a weekly pillbox (available at most pharmacies). Your pharmacist can help you to fill it.
  • Be even more focused on holidays, as it is easier to forget your treatment.
  • When you travel, pack your treatment in two suitcases (in case one is lost).
  • Be prepared; don’t wait till the last minute to renew your prescription.
  • If you suffer side effects: talk to your doctor.

References:
1. 2013 ESH/ESC guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension
2. Health risks from alcohol: new guidelines 2016 - Consultations - GOV.UK https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/