World Hypertension Day is observed on May 17 every year to raise awareness about serious medical complications caused by hypertension and to help in the prevention, detection and treatment of the condition.

Hypertension is a serious medical condition that occurs when the pressure in the blood vessels is too high. When left untreated, hypertension can lead to further complications such as heart attacks and stroke.

More than one billion people around the world suffer from blood pressure issues. Estimates show that the number of people with hypertension could increase by 15-20% by 2025.

The theme for this year's World Hypertension Day is "measure your blood pressure accurately, control it, live longer." The theme focuses on creating awareness about hypertension and promoting accurate blood pressure measurement methods.

Although a combination of medication and lifestyle changes is often recommended for controlling hypertension, certain lifestyle modifications such as weight loss and regular exercise can bring a significant change in blood pressure levels.

Natural ways to control blood pressure

1. Regular exercise: Sitting for a prolonged time can increase the risk of hypertension. Being physically active and getting regular exercise can improve heart strength, making the heart more efficient at pumping blood. This helps to lower the pressure in arteries.

2. Cut down on salt: Studies have shown that increased salt consumption is linked to an increase in blood pressure and related health conditions. Simple steps like switching to fresh ingredients, using less processed foods and seasoning with herbs and spices instead of salt can make a marked difference.

3. Reduce stress: When the body is under stress, it releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which raises the heart rate and constrict blood vessels, causing a spike in blood pressure. Relaxing the body by working less or listening to soothing music are effective methods to combat high blood pressure.

4. Include potassium-rich food: Studies have shown that taking 2,000 to 4,000 mg of potassium a day can help lower blood pressure. Certain fruits such as bananas and watermelons, and vegetables like potatoes, spinach, beans, tomatoes and avocados are rich sources of potassium.

5. DASH diet: Dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) is a specific diet designed to lower blood pressure without medication. It is a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, while low in saturated fat and sodium. Researchers have found it to be effective in reducing blood pressure within just four weeks.

6. Reduce weight: People who are overweight or obese can make a significant difference in blood pressure levels and heart health when they reduce weight. The difference is significant when the weight loss is through exercise.

A nurse examines a woman who has hypertension. rawpixel/Pixabay