Hypertension or high blood pressure is a topical medical and public health issue worldwide. Moreover, it is the leading risk factor for death in the world, as well as for cardiovascular diseases, yet the condition is often left unaddressed and untreated because of the lack of apparent symptoms. Hence, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 1 billion people worldwide suffer from hypertension and this condition causes about 7 million deaths annually (Ghezelbash & Ghorbani, 2012). In the USA, almost 43% of the population has high blood pressure, although this figure varies within the range of 25% – 43% depending on gender and ethnicity, but the overall incident rate has been growing in recent years (Comelissen & Smart, 2013). People usually receive costly medications to treat hypertension, but it is possible to prevent the condition from taking some simple measures that each individual can afford-*. Therefore, it seems reasonable to introduce hypertension prevention measures aimed at reducing the risk of this condition on my family so that each of its members would become healthier and lower their blood pressure to a normal level. The four measures that I will introduce and implement in my family include regular exercise training; lifestyle modification with a particular focus on weight control and decrease in alcohol consumption; a change of diet to the DASH diet preferable; and a general decrease in the salt intake.
Firstly, regular exercise training seems to be the most comprehensive prevention suggestion that can not only reduce the risk of hypertension but also improve general health and assist with weight control. International guidelines for hypertension state that “There is Class I, Level B evidence that 150 minutes of weekly physical activity offers an alternative that may be used to complement antihypertensive medication” in case of hypertension treatment and this is an effective method of its prevention (Comelissen & Smart, 2013, p. 1). Consecutively, the American College of Sports Medication indicates that 30 minutes of daily dynamic aerobic endurance training combined with dynamic resistance exercises can significantly lower blood pressure, thereby preventing hypertension (Comelissen & Smart, 2013). In their study, Comelissen and Smart proved this statement and revealed that “endurance training, dynamic resistance training, combined training, and isometric resistance training significantly reduce DBP and all except combined training reduce SBP” (p. 5). Therefore, I intend to apply for a gym membership for members of my family after we discuss this issue together. Each of us can choose the most suitable and delightful type of exercising and some may even choose to engage in regular running instead of going to a gym. Although initially, it may be difficult to motivate all the family members to start exercising regularly, they will surely realize all the benefits that this particular prevention measure offers and will hopefully support my suggestion.
Secondly, such a prevention measure as lifestyle modification with a particular focus on weight control and the decrease in alcohol consumption may prove to be beneficial and effective both as a way of reducing the risk of hypertension and improving general health. Ghezelbash and Ghorbani (2012) prove that lifestyle modification can significantly lower blood pressure, thereby preventing hypertension and related conditions. It may be difficult to adopt a healthy lifestyle at once, but the suggested measure is essential to protect the health of the family. Therefore, I intend to start with the assessment of weight and develop a plan of action in case weight loss is necessary. It is essential to “achieve and maintain normal body weight as measured by body mass index” as it may reduce SBP by 5-20 mmHg per each 10 lost kilograms of excess weight (Ghezelbash & Ghorbani, 2012, p. 204). Regular exercises will assist with weight control and we will probably need some pieces of advice from a professional dietician as well. Besides, it is necessary to monitor alcohol consumption in order to ensure that it is moderate. The evidence shows that men should not drink more than 3 drinks per day, while women should not have more than 1 drink per day as this would decrease their blood pressure by 2-4 mmHg (Ghezelbash & Ghorbani, 2012). I am convinced that my family will support this suggestion as far as the current alcohol consumption level is already low, and weight control is beneficial for health, appearance, and self-esteem.
Thirdly, I intend to suggest changing my family’s diet to the DASH diet preferable. Evidence shows that the DASH diet is highly effective in decreasing both SBP and DBP of individuals with and without hypertension with 78% of people choosing this diet reducing their SBP to less than 140 mmHG, as well as decreasing their cholesterol levels (Reddy & Katan, 2004). The DASH diet envisions an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts along with a decreased consumption of red meat, beverages that are high in sugar, and sweets (Reddy & Katan, 2004). In fact, this suggestion will be the most controversial in my family as it would be difficult to convince them to stop eating sweets and red meat, yet they will surely agree to consume more fruits and vegetables.
Finally, a cut in the salt intake may be an effective measure to reduce the risk of hypertension. In fact, there is sound evidence that proves that dietary salt intake is among the major causes of hypertension (He, Campbell, & MacGregor, 2012). In the USA, most individuals consume more than 9 g of salt per day and my family is not an exception (He et al., 2012). However, it is recommended to limit the salt intake to less than 5 g per day, which will consequently reduce the risk of high blood pressure, while consumption of 3-4 g of salt per day is the most effective prevention measure for hypertension (He et al., 2012). About 75% of consumed salt comes from processed foods, that is why I will encourage my family to monitor what they buy and to prefer foods without high salt content. At first, it may be necessary to consciously monitor the amount of consumed salt, but with time it will become a habit and will occur automatically. My family will surely realize how potentially dangerous salt maybe for their health and will agree to this suggestion.
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Withal, the suggestions described above are rather easy to implement and do not require any substantial additional payments or time. Of course, at first, it may be difficult to count the amount of salt consumed, to stop eating steaks, or engage in regular exercises before or after a long and hard day. Nonetheless, these measures are effective in terms of reducing the risk of hypertension, as well as being beneficial to general health. Therefore, my family will surely see the benefits of the prevention that I suggest and will agree to try it in earnest.