Two silent killers warning to the world

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Blood pressure news

World Hypertension Day: Beware two silent killers

More than 7 million people die around the world every year due to two silent killers: high blood pressure and salt. Yet, more than 2.5 million lives could be saved,  if everyone reduced their salt intake by half, the World Hypertension League has revealed today (World Hypertension Day 17 May 2009).

Silent killer #1 – High blood pressure

How high blood pressure kills: High blood pressure is a killer because it puts extra strain on your body and its vital organs. This excessive pressure quietly damages your blood vessels, heart and kidneys without causing any visible signs.

Because high blood pressure doesn’t normally produce signs or symptoms, the damage to your body builds up silently over many years. In fact, many people don’t know they have high blood pressure until they have a stroke or a heart attack.

For more, please see: What is high blood pressure?

What you can do about high blood pressure: The first step to tackling high blood pressure is to find out if you have it or not. The only way to know for certain is to have regular blood pressure checks (preferably once a year).

The second step is to change your lifestyle to be more blood pressure friendly. The good news is that these changes will also reduce your risk of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, dementia, kidney disease and diabetes too.

A blood pressure friendly lifestyle means:

  • eating less than 6g salt a day
  • eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • being the right weight for your height
  • being active for 30 minutes five times a week.

For more, please see our How to lower your blood pressure area.

Silent killer #2 – Salt

How salt kills: The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the more damage is being done to your blood vessels, heart and kidneys. Over many years, this damage will build up and may lead to a stroke, heart attack or kidney failure.

Salt contains sodium, which makes your body retain water and eating too much salt means that your body holds on to too much fluid. This extra fluid raises your blood pressure. By eating less salt, your body will hold on to less water and this will reduce your blood pressure.

What you can do to reduce your risk: The first step is to become “salt aware” by reading food labels to see how much salt is in your foods.

The second step is to reduce your salt intake as much as possible by eating foods that are low in salt. To help you do this, and to celebrate World Hypertension Day (17 May 2009), the World Hypertension League has issued a list of foods that are High, Medium or Low in salt (or sodium).

High in salt – cut down on these foods: Anchovies, bacon, cheese, salted chips, coated chicken, powdered sauces, noodle snacks, olives, pickles, prawn, salami, salted nuts, salted fish, sausages, smoked meat and fish, soy sauce, stock cubes, table sauces and canned meats.

Medium in salt – eat fewer servings of these processed foods: Baked beans, cookies, breakfast cereals, bread products, burgers, cakes, pastries, cooking/table sauces, stuffed/canned pasta, meat pies, pasta sauces, pizza, ready meals, soup and sandwiches.

Low in salt – eat more of these foods: Low-salt breakfast cereals, couscous, eggs, fresh fish, meat and poultry, fresh cheese, fruits and vegetables (dried, frozen or fresh), homemade bread/sauces/soups, mozzarella and ricotta cheese, pasta, rice, unsalted nuts, plain cottage cheese, plain popcorn, yogurt, peas, beans, lentils and seeds.

It is also important to avoid adding salt when cooking or at the table.

For more, please see our Salt information area.

Topics: High Blood Pressure in the news, Lifestyle

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