Among chronic diseases, the disease with the highest number of patients treated is high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a national disease, affecting one in three to four adults over the age of 30 in Korea.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2020 National Health and Nutrition Survey, the prevalence of high blood pressure is about 28% in adults over 30 years of age and about 48% among adults over 60 years of age in Korea. In particular, blood pressure management is important as research has shown that treating high blood pressure in old age can reduce the risk of all forms of dementia.
According to statistics from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, there were 6,512,197 patients with high blood pressure in 2019. The age group with the largest number of patients with high blood pressure was those in their 60s, accounting for 28.1%, followed by those in their 50s at 25.5%. By gender, 50.1% were men and 49.9% were women.
Approximately 30% of patients with high blood pressure do not know that they have high blood pressure, and only 50% of patients with high blood pressure control their blood pressure below their target blood pressure.
High blood pressure is called a ‘silent killer’ because it has no symptoms in the beginning but then causes serious complications. Complications caused by high blood pressure can appear systemically, including in blood vessels, brain, heart, kidneys, and eyes. Fatal complications such as arteriosclerosis, myocardial infarction, and stroke can occur when blood vessels become blocked or hardened. 60% of cardiovascular diseases such as angina pectoris and myocardial infarction and 90% of strokes are caused by high blood pressure.
Hypertension is diagnosed when blood pressure is over 140/90mmHg. If high blood pressure is diagnosed, the risk of heart disease also doubles.
High blood pressure is broadly classified into two types. It is divided into primary (essential) hypertension, which occurs without a specific cause due to a combination of various factors such as age and weight, and secondary hypertension, which occurs due to causes such as kidney disease and thyroid disease. According to the National Health Insurance, 95% of patients with high blood pressure are essential, and in most cases, no specific cause can be found.
Risk factors related to high blood pressure include family history, age, drinking, smoking, obesity, stress, lack of exercise, and salty eating habits.
In particular, salty and spicy eating habits increase blood pressure due to high salt intake. When salt enters the body, it draws moisture into the blood vessels, increasing the amount of blood within the blood vessels, which increases blood pressure. When it stimulates the blood vessels, it promotes edema and an increase in blood pressure due to the burden of blood circulation, causing heart disease. Additionally, as fat intake increases, the development of arteriosclerosis accelerates and blood pressure rises.
High blood pressure comes on quietly and slowly due to bad eating habits and lifestyle habits. This is why it is important to treat high blood pressure by improving lifestyle habits that worsen high blood pressure.
Consistently maintaining proper lifestyle habits such as exercise and diet that help prevent or manage high blood pressure can help lower blood pressure. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety explains, “To properly manage blood pressure, consistent self-management efforts are necessary, such as eating bland food, exercising for more than 30 minutes every day, maintaining an appropriate weight, quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol, relieving stress, and measuring blood pressure regularly.” did.
▲ Limit salt intake
A low-salt diet is the basis of dietary therapy for high blood pressure. The average Korean consumes about 10g of salt per day. This is twice as much as the World Health Organization recommended amount of 5g. The main sources of sodium are seasonings such as salt, soy sauce, and soybean paste, as well as cabbage kimchi and ramen.
In particular, our diet focuses on salty and spicy foods such as stews and salted seafood, which are the main culprits in salt intake. We need to change our eating habits that focus on salty and spicy foods to eating a balanced diet of bland foods. Try to reduce your salt intake to 6g (1 teaspoon) per day.
The Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service reported that when a patient with mild hypertension reduced salt intake to 3g per day for 4 weeks, systolic blood pressure decreased by 16mmHg and diastolic blood pressure decreased by about 9mmHg.
▲ Consumption of fruits and seaweed
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said, “Diuretic drugs such as ‘hydrochlorothiazide’ and ‘furosemide’ have the potential to cause hypokalemia, so avoid eating fruit containing a lot of potassium, such as bananas, oranges, and raisins, or green and yellow vegetables such as carrots and spinach. “Eating it is helpful,” he said.
Cucumbers and milk also contain a lot of potassium, which helps control blood pressure. Seaweed such as seaweed and kelp contain a lot of fiber, which inhibits fat absorption, and contains magnesium, which helps control blood pressure.
If you are taking high blood pressure medication such as amlodipine, which blocks calcium channel blockers, you should not drink grapefruit juice within 1 hour before or 2 hours after taking the medication. This is because grapefruit juice increases the blocking effect of calcium channels.
▲ Reduce fat and eat vegetables, tofu, etc.
Consume green fish, which has less fat, than meat such as beef or pork. Blue fish such as mackerel, saury, and sardines contain a lot of omega-3, which helps prevent the development of coronary artery diseases such as angina. It is recommended to consume fish at least twice a week as it has the effect of suppressing the increase in neutral fat.
Eating a lot of vegetables reduces calorie intake and helps control weight. Tofu, beans, and onions also prevent the development of arteriosclerosis by reducing blood fats such as cholesterol.
Carrots are rich in potassium. It is good to eat plenty of green vegetables such as spinach.
▲ Quitting smoking is essential, drinking alcohol should be reduced.
Smoking and drinking are strong risk factors for increased blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption is essential for preventing high blood pressure.
The nicotine contained in cigarettes temporarily increases blood pressure and pulse. Smoking is known to increase daytime blood pressure compared to 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure.
Smoking increases blood viscosity and worsens blood circulation. In particular, since it is an important cause of arteriosclerosis, which is the cause of cardiovascular disease, smoking cessation is essential not only to control blood pressure but also to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Excessive drinking increases blood pressure and resistance to high blood pressure medications.
The permitted drinking limit for men is 20-30g per day based on the amount of alcohol. This corresponds to 720mL (1 bottle) of beer, 200-300mL (1 glass) of wine, 200mL (1 glass) of distilled liquor, 60mL (2 shots) of whiskey, and 2-3 glasses of soju (1/3 bottle). Underweight people and women have a greater sensitivity to alcohol, so only half of the above is allowed.
▲ Exercise for more than 30 minutes every day
Exercise is beneficial to patients with high blood pressure by lowering blood pressure, improving cardiopulmonary function, reducing weight, improving dyslipidemia, and relieving stress.
People who exercise regularly have a 50% lower risk of developing high blood pressure compared to people who do not exercise. Even people diagnosed with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure if they exercise regularly.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, which involves sweating or being out of breath but still able to talk to the person next to you, reduces the incidence of high blood pressure by about 31% in men and 35% in women. recommended.
It is a good idea to exercise at least three times a week to the point where you sweat, feel out of breath, and have a faster pulse. Blood pressure is lowered and cardiopulmonary function and dyslipidemia are also improved.
However, if you don’t have time or equipment in your busy life, it’s a good idea to move your body a little more. Stretching after sleeping is also an exercise.
To see the effect of lowering blood pressure, you must exercise continuously for 3 to 6 months. If you normalize your blood pressure through exercise, your blood pressure will rise again if you stop exercising. It is important to make exercise a habit.
▲ Avoid stress and maintain appropriate weight
Avoid stress, maintain a calm mind, and maintain an appropriate weight to avoid gaining weight.
Losing weight reduces blood pressure. In particular, abdominal obesity is closely related to mortality due to high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and coronary artery disease.