Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure
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Heart and circulatory diseases account for roughly a quarter of deaths every year in the UK. Of these, coronary heart disease is the most common type. This occurs when arteries become narrowed by a build-up of fatty substances along their walls and if left untreated, this can prove life-threatening.
Doctor Allswell E Eno, a London-based GP, author and founder of The Black of Respect campaign, spoke with Express.co.uk to explain more and about ways to lower your risk of heart disease.
He said: “Heart disease as it is commonly understood refers to what the medical profession calls coronary heart disease’(CHD) or more commonly ischaemic heart disease (IHD).
“These terms specifically mean damage or potential damage to the heart and symptoms of this arising from blockage of or restriction to the blood flow and hence oxygen supply it receives from one or more of its arteries (the coronary arteries) and branches, and distinguish it from other forms of heart disease.
“IHD is preventable and, if not prevented, is a treatable condition provided it is detected and treated early enough.
“A number of factors independently or combined increase or reduce the risk of developing IHD, or worsening it if already present.
“Some of them inherited, most of them acquired, and all of them modifiable or treatable.”
The “most common” risk factor for heart disease, he said, is having high blood pressure.
Also known as hypertension, this condition causes the heart to work extra hard to pump blood around the body.
It is often caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet, being overweight, smoking and not exercising enough, however, you can also be at risk if it runs in your family.
Dr Eno recommended “early” detection and control of your blood pressure to protect yourself from heart disease.
As part of this he advised checking your blood pressure from the age of 35.
He said: “I would recommend you start checking your blood pressure twice a year from 35 years of age with your own machine.
“The NHS doesn’t start routine IHD risk prevention including blood pressure checking till patients are aged 40.”
How to check your blood pressure
It is important to know that blood pressure is recorded with two figures: the systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body and the diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
When using a machine it should display both numbers.
High blood pressure is considered to be from 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) or 150/90mmHg if you’re over the age of 80.
Whereas healthy blood pressure is usually between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg – or below 150/90mmHg for over 80s.
Dr Eno added other ways to keep blood pressure low.
“Take regular aerobic exercise (as opposed to weights, aerobic exercise is the type that makes the heart race, e.g. running, swimming) from school age,” he said.
“Avoid getting overweight and don’t take up smoking.
“If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation (know your units; maximum recommended per week for men and women has remained at 14 units for the past 15 years or so). Reduce dietary salt intake.”
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