Health Message on 2014 World Health Day

Wed Mar 05, 2014 4:40 am

The occasion of the World Health Day is not an ordinary occasion as for this year it highlights the importance of controlling blood pressure. High blood pressure is called the ‘Silent Killer’, as it does not show signs or symptoms for the people who suffer from it but it increases their risks for heart attacks, kidney failure, strokes, blindness and other health complications. High blood pressure increases with age and its prevalence increases also with obesity, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and excessive consumption of salt. The good news is that high blood pressure a preventable and treatable disease where the preventive measures can also improve the people’s quality of life, promote their health and wellbeing and reduce their risks for heart diseases, obesity and some types of cancer. The blood pressure should not exceed 130/80 and doctors should be consulted if it is higher than this level as they may prescribe medications if it exceeded this level. The preventable measures include the following:
• Consuming well-balanced and healthy meals that are rich in fiber and antioxidants.
These meals should be low in saturated fats, trans fats, moderate in cholesterol but rich in antioxidants that are found in healthy oils, fruits and vegetables, in particular, the ones with bright colors, some nuts (almonds and walnuts that are preferred to be unsalted), salmon fish, tuna, etc. Milk products are preferred to be low fat or non-fat and the meat should be lean and poultry should be skinless.
The meals should also include whole cereals and grains for their fiber content.
• Reducing the intake of salt. Table salt can be replaced by adding vinegar, onion, garlic, herbs, or spices to enhance the food flavor and taste without adding salt. Highly salted foods, including pickles and processed meat are recommended to be avoided. Upon shopping from the commissaries, people should be aware about the salt content in food labels and limit purchasing salty sauces, dressings, nuts, chips, salted snacks, salted cheeses, canned foods in brine, processed meat including sausages and hotdogs. Being salt-conscious is really a good step to maintain the health.
• Avoiding tobacco in all its forms. It is advisable to make the homes, cars, workplaces and public places smoke free. People are advised to avoid active and passive smoking.
• Avoiding alcohol as it increases the risks of high blood pressure in addition to causing many other serious health problems.
• Performing regular and moderate activity, including brisk walking for 30-60 minutes a day or on most of the weekdays. Regular exercise can also promote health and well-being of people and reduce the need for many medications to control blood pressure. Any vigorous exercise should be consulted with doctors.
• Avoiding obesity and reducing excess bodyweight, if any. This will help reduce the risks of other health problems, including diabetes, heart diseases, joint pain, back pain, stroke, etc. Losing weight can be achieved by combining both low-calorie healthy meals and practicing regular exercise. Losing weight as well reduces the need for medications to control blood pressure.

In summary, it is advisable for the people to measure their blood pressure regularly and report to their doctors in case of elevation in their blood pressure measurements. They are advised to invest in their health in the long term by eating healthy meals that contain moderate amount of salt and adopt healthier lifestyles as the above measures can help avoid elevated blood pressure. It is also advisable that blood pressure measurement should be accessible to all, in particular for the people who are at risk for high blood pressure. Stress is recommended to be manageable by lifestyle modification including exercise, eating healthy, getting adequate sleep, avoiding tobacco and avoiding excessive intake of caffeine.

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