This World Hypertension Day, get a handle on high blood pressure.


Prevent & handle high blood pressure with lifestyle tweaks 
& the latest tech

High blood pressure or hypertension is a hidden disease and a silent killer - millions of people in South Africa already have it and don’t even know it. But it’s easy to prevent and manage with meds and minor tweaks to your lifestyle and diet.

The ABCs of high BP

Your blood vessels (or arteries) carry blood that’s rich in oxygen from your heart to the rest of your body. High blood pressure is when the force of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels is just too high. This can damage your arteries and lead to heart disease, stroke and deep vein thrombosis.

There are many causes of high BP – a family history, an unhealthy diet, a lack of exercise, smoking or alcohol abuse, being overweight or obese, certain medicines, and stress & anxiety – but there are just as many ways to keep your BP in check.


A health check is the 1st step

A ‘cuff’ blood pressure test is part of every GP consult and will give you an accurate BP reading. With the Unu app, you can also do a free BP check in just 50 seconds with our leading face scan tech. We recommend checking your BP once a month on the app to see if it stays within the ‘normal’ range for your age:

  • Children (aged 2–13): 80–120/40–80

  • Teenagers(aged 14–18): 90–120/50–80

  • Adults(aged 19–40): 95–135/60–80

  • Adults (aged 41–60): 110–145/70–90

  • Pensioners (aged 61+): 95–145/70–90

If your BP is higher than 180/120 you need emergency care. At this stage, you may experience flushing, blood spots in your eyes, and dizziness. You can get instant help via the Unu app.


A heart-healthy diet is a great start


Start by taking stock of what you eat each week. For just one week, write down all the foods you eat, and how much. This will give you a clear picture of what and where you need to cut back. But the big no-no’s are sugar, refined carbs, deep fried foods and foods with too much salt.


Stay away from:

  • red meat

  • processed meats like polony and processed cheese

  • salty foods like pickles, ham, cured bacon, canned beef, hot dogs, Russians & crisps

  • sugary drinks, sodas & caffeinated drinks

  • refined carbs like white bread, pastry, pasta & pizza

  • alcohol

  • saturated fatty foods like full-fat milk and cream, butter, red meat, chicken skin, store-bought pies and biscuits

Luckily there are loads of affordable foods you can add to your diet to help lower 
your BP. A good place to start is with foods full of fibre, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.


Get more of these:

  • citrus fruits – grapefruits, lemons, and oranges

  • seasonal fruits – bananas, apples, apricots, mangoes, melons, and berries

  • salmon, pilchards, mackerel & other fatty fish

  • brown rice, bread and pasta

  • pumpkin, chia, and flax seeds

  • beans, chickpeas, green peas, lima beans & lentils

  • green vegetables – broccoli, celery, spinach, Swiss chard, kale

  • other vegetables – carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, beetroot

  • tomatoes

  • full-fat, unflavoured yoghurt

You can also try the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. It’s packed with potassium and magnesium-rich foods & gives you the right servings for each food group.


Move more each day


Exercise is a huge part of keeping high BP away, but it doesn’t need to be a huge effort. 

Make it part of your every day by:

  1. Using the stairs not the lift or escalator

  2. Walking whenever you can

  3. Doing housework

  4. Doing gardening

  5. Riding a bike

  6. Playing a team sport

But the best form of exercise to fight high BP is called isometric exercise, where there are no reps – you just hold a position for around 30-sec.


Here are few exercises to get you started:

  • Plank

  • Wall sit

  • Sumo squat

  • Calf raise

  • Superman pose

  • High lunge

  • Spinal twist

  • Happy Baby pose

Make sure you do these poses slowly and correctly so you don’t injure yourself. 
It’s always best to get supervision from a trained expert before you try a new form of exercise.

Take a break from bad habits


Exercise and diet can only take you so far, but if you care about your health, you’ll push a little further.

Ditch the daily habits that do you no good:

  • Stop smoking and vaping

  • Avoid second-hand smoke – when someone lights up, leave the room

  • Avoid alcohol or limit it to celebrations

  • Avoid high caffeine energy drinks – they push up your BP

When in doubt, just reach out


If you’ve been diagnosed with high BP, don’t let it hold you back. Take charge of your health and stay healthy by taking your meds and making these lifestyle changes. Small changes can have huge results.

And if don’t have hypertension, get early screenings and regular nurse & GP consults through the Unu app. Do a monthly health check and get a personal health score to keep track of your BP & keep it where it needs to be!

Note: All health and exercise tips provided herein are for general wellness information purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure or suspect you may have it, visit your nearest GP immediately for further testing and treatment.