High blood pressure (also referred to as HBP, or hypertension) is when your blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high. Your blood vessels respond to this pressure by hardening, which, over time, restricts the amount of blood flowing through them. This process can eventually trigger a heart attack so it is important to monitor your blood pressure.
The only way to determine whether your blood pressure is too high is to take a blood pressure test.
As the NHS explains, there are a number of places that provide this service, such as a GP surgery, but blood pressure tests can also be carried out at home using your own blood pressure monitor.
What is considered high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is given as two figures – systolic pressure (the top number) and diastolic pressure (the bottom number).
“High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher (or an average of 135/85mmHg at home) – or 150/90mmHg or higher (or an average of 145/85mmHg at home) if you’re over the age of 80,” explains the NHS.
The residents relied upon pond water or groundwater as their main water source.
The study compared blood pressure levels among people who drank salinated water with those who drank freshwater.
Even though sodium is known to increase blood pressure levels, study participants who drank the salinated water had lower blood pressure.
That wasn’t because of the sodium, the researchers believe, but rather because of two other minerals in the water – calcium and magnesium.
“Calcium and magnesium are protective; they decrease blood pressure,” said Abu Mohammed Naser, a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta and lead author of the study.
Naser added: “What we suspect is happening is that they outweigh the harmful effects of sodium on blood pressure.”
What specifically did the results show?
The analysis pooled data from two studies following participants in several communities in coastal Bangladesh, during both dry and monsoon seasons when the amount of salinity in the water fluctuated.
It found those who drank mildly salinated water had average systolic blood pressure levels 1.55 mmHg lower than those who drank freshwater.
Their average diastolic blood pressure levels were 1.26 mmHg lower.
The reduction in blood pressure was modest but that could still have a significant effect, as Dr. Robert M. Carey, a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia who wasn’t involved in the new study, explained: “I think it’s pretty clear from many different studies that a small reduction in blood pressure, done consistently, can have a major impact in reducing cardiovascular disease and stroke.”
As Naser noted, numerous studies have shown both calcium and magnesium can help to lower blood pressure but adding them to water also could make a better delivery system for some minerals than food because “chemicals in the food can interfere with absorption”.
“If you can supplement or add calcium and magnesium to water, there is a high chance that they will be absorbed better,” Naser added.
According to the NHS, general lifestyle tips to lower high blood pressure include:
- Cut your salt intake to less than six grams (0.2oz) a day, which is about a teaspoonful – find out how you can reduce the amount of salt in your diet
- Eat a low-fat, balanced diet – including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Be active
- Cut down on alcohol
- Lose weight
- Drink less caffeine – found in coffee, tea and cola
- Stop smoking.
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