17 May 2010

Healthy weight, healthy blood pressure

Today is World Hypertension Day (WHD) and the theme for 2010 is Healthy Weight, Healthy Blood Pressure.

Today is World Hypertension Day (WHD) and the theme for 2010 is Healthy Weight, Healthy Blood Pressure.

What is high blood pressure?

  • A family history of high blood pressure.
  • Ethnic groups: the black African population has a greater predisposition to hypertension.
  • Age: the risk of developing high blood pressure increases with age (it occurs most often in men over the age of 35 years).
  • Being overweight (especially around the stomach area) contributes to a 2-6 times higher risk.
  • An unhealthy diet, including a high salt intake.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Physical inactivity.
  • Smoking.
  • Stress.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Certain medications like birth control pills, steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Severe kidney disease.

  • Eat small, regular meals every day.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables (at least 5 servings a day).
  • Include foods that are high in fibre (e.g. whole grains and nuts).
  • Avoid fatty foods, especially those that are high in saturated fats (e.g. full cream dairy products, meat, chicken skin and fried foods).
  • Eat foods that are high in fibre and whole grains (limit refined foods and drinks high in added sugars).
  • Choose Heart Mark products when shopping or eating out as these are healthier alternatives – visit for a list of products endorsed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA.
  • Overweight people are advised to lose weight. Losing as little as 5% to 10% of your total body weight can lead to a meaningful drop in blood pressure.
  • Limit total salt (sodium chloride) intake. This not only includes table salt but also salt that is hidden in foods).
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Limit daily intake to one drink per day in women and two drinks per day in men.
  • Caffeine in coffee, tea, cola drinks, chocolate, energy drinks and weight loss products may cause blood pressure to increase temporarily.
  • Include regular physical activity as part of your daily routine (aim for at 30 minutes five times a week).


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Hypertension expert

Dr Jacomien de Villiers qualified as a specialist physician at the University of Pretoria in 1995. She worked at various clinics at the Department of Internal Medicine, Steve Biko Hospital, these include General Internal Medicine, Hypertension, Diabetes and Cardiology. She has run a private practice since 2001, as well as a consultant post at the Endocrine Clinic of Steve Biko Hospital.

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