​​​High blood pressure: Taking medicine alone is not enough to lower it

Have high blood pressure? While it is crucial to take your medication, did you know that exercise is one of the best ways to bring your blood pressure down?

“High blood pressure, or hypertension, is diagnosed when your systolic blood pressure is equal to or greater than 140mmHg, or if your diastolic blood pressure is equal to or greater than 90mmHg,” explains Mr​​​ Png Eng Keat, Physiotherapist at the LIFE Centre, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

As the condition has no symptoms, it is commonly known as a “silent killer”. If left untreated in the long-term, it can cause damage to the heart and blood vessels, leading to heart attack, stroke or renal failure.

Normal blood pressure achievable with medicine AND exercise

To control your high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications like diuretics (“water pills”), beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers. But sometimes, your doctor may first recommend lifestyle changes, such as exercise and cutting down on salt.

“Becoming more active is an important and effective way to help bring your blood pressure down to normal levels,” says Mr Png. “However, this needs to be done together with pharmacological therapy, if prescribed.”

Exercise can help lower your blood pressure​!

Blood pressure is affected by the resistance of the peripheral blood vessels (those vessels outside the heart): the higher the peripheral resistance, the higher the blood pressure. Long-term exercise has a positive effect on blood pressure because it reduces the resistance of the peripheral blood vessels via hormonal effects and structural adaptations.

Regular physical activity of at least 30 minutes on most days of the week can lower your blood pressure by five to 10 mmHg, a reduction similar to that achieved with some blood pressure drugs.

Importantly, working out can help you to maintain a healthy weight, which is also crucial in controlling your blood pressure. “Usually, the greater the BMI, the greater the blood pressure. This is attributed to the greater output from the heart, as well as the reduced insulin sensitivity, which also affects the blood pressure,” explains Mr Png.

Read on to learn how to exercise right to lower yo​ur blood pressure​.​

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​Ref: T12