Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Health & Wellness

Searching for a Silent Killer, Hypertension – Part III


These are the final sets of instructions for you to follow.

7. Easy on alcohol: If you drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. Heavy, regular consumption of alcohol, especially beer, can increase blood pressure dramatically. Experts recommend no more than two drinks (red wine) a day for a man and one drink a day for a woman. In the past, there has been some controversy regarding this especially since a few reports suggested alcohol is good for your heart and those who loved their whiskey and other hard liquors used to point this out to me when I suggested, ‘moderation in drinking.’ No more; the recommendations are clear now.

8. Learn to cope with stress. Pundits always say it is not the stress but the way you react to it that causes the problems. So “don’t react but respond properly to any adverse situation.” Yoga and meditation, spirituality, relaxation exercises, listening to stress-management tapes and soft music, etc., will help. As the famous guru Yogi Amrit Desai recommends, we must all practice ‘Meditation in Motion.’

9. Laugh as much as possible and as often as possible. A good belly laughter is often what you need when you are in a blue mood or angry. During a recent yoga seminar at the Hindu temple in Tampa, Shri Mukundananda discussed ‘Laughing Yoga’ as a means for maintaining good health. Maybe, good humor can keep the doctor away at least for a while.

10. Be happy in life: Studies suggests happily married individuals may be more likely to have lower blood pressure than single or unhappily married people. Social connections and group activities generally help you to keep yourself happy and satisfied. Keeping busy doing hobbies and volunteer work as you get older and having a purpose in life are important for health.

11. Medications: Compliance with the prescribed medications is very important not only to control the BP but to prevent the major complications as well. Often, patients think that

“Since my BP is normal now and I don’t have any symptoms, maybe I can stop it for a while.” Wrong thinking! Don’t ever do that without the doctor’s orders! Most patients have a love/hate relationship with medicines but unfortunately there is no choice. Many of the standard drugs for high BP are quite cheap and Publix even gives some free for you, so check with your doctor.

12. Get a good night’s sleep: “Who has the time to sleep?” asked one of my patients who was recently diagnosed to have high BP. She is a single parent, works two jobs, and has a young daughter at home. I empathize with such situations but still you must try to get a minimum of six hours of sleep at night. Short duration of sleep is associated with high prevalence of hypertension. Noise, not smooth music, while you are sleeping can significantly raise your blood pressure too, even when it does not wake you up, a new study suggests.

13. Regular follow up visit with your doctor: This is important, especially if you are not monitoring your BP adequately at home. Make sure you take all your medication lists and write down the questions you want to ask when you see your doctor. Report all side effects if any but do not stop any medications on your own.

Hypertension is a chronic disease and managing any chronic disease is particularly challenging. Please pay close attention to your medical problems. I consider some health literacy is important and there are many tools available for patients to educate themselves to effectively manage their conditions. Sorry, ignorance is not an excuse. A healthy life is up to you.

This concludes the series.

Recommended reading: High Blood Pressure and Staying Healthy: An illustrated interactive booklet for the public by New York University School of Medicine, Center for Immigrant Health, N.Y., N.Y. published by Pfizer.

Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan is a Brooksville cardiologist.

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