Think as long as your blood pressure is out of the danger zone you don’t have to worry about your health? Think again. Pre-hypertension, or a reading in the grey area between normal (under 120/80mm Hg) and high (over 139/89mm Hg), increases stroke risk by 66 per cent, report Chinese researchers. That’s cause for concern, especially given that the condition is affecting more and more people at younger and younger ages, warns American Heart Association spokesperson Daniel Lackland, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at the Medical University of South Carolina. In fact, recent research indicates that nearly a quarter of women ages 20 to 44 are pre-hypertensive. To reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, try these three research-backed tips.
- Tune in
If you like background music during your morning commute or while making dinner, try listening to classical or slow tunes for just 30 minutes a day! Combined with breathing exercises, they can help you keep hypertension at bay, according to an Italian research. The study authors believe your circulatory and respiratory systems try to mirror the tempo, and slower heart and breathing rates correspond to lower blood pressure.
- Feast on fruit
Watermelon contains L-citrulline and L-arginine, two amino acids that convert into nitric oxide. This gas relaxes blood vessel walls, which can improve blood flow, and shave up to 9mm Hg off your reading, reports Florida State University scientists. But you’d have to eat roughly 1kg a day to reach the study-backed dose 4g of L-citrulline and 2g of L-arginine, says researcher Arturo Figueroa, M.D., Ph.D. So snack on the fruit to your heart’s content and grab a supplement that contains the two amino acids from a pharmacy to make up the difference.
- Get a grip
Wrist and forearm exercises, like handgrip training, may dilate vessels throughout the body, reducing blood pressure by 10 per cent in just four weeks, according to a report in Hypertension. But squeezing a stress ball occasionally won’t be enough to help. Instead, follow the programme used in the study: hold a handgrip exerciser shut for two minutes at a time for a total of 12 to 15 minutes, three times a week.