What is Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)?

Blood pressure is the force exerted by the blood on the blood vessels and the heart. It has two components: systolic pressure (higher count) is the maximum pressure in the arteries when the heart is actively pumping whereas diastolic pressure (lower count) is the minimum pressure when the heart is resting in between beats. Hypertension or high blood pressure (HBP) is defined as a blood pressure consistently exceeding 140/90mmHg when resting. Called the ‘silent killer’ because it does not always produce symptoms, it is one of the most common ailments that damages many organs. Uncontrolled high blood pressure leads to serious complications like heart attack, stroke, blindness and chronic kidney failure.


1 in 4
has Hypertension

Hypertension can be broadly divided into two types:

  • In primary Hypertension (95% of all cases of Hypertension), strong genetic and environmental factors lead to Hypertension.
  • In secondary Hypertension (5% of all cases of HBP), an identifiable cause exists such as kidney disease, endocrine disorder and drugs intake.


Who is Most at Risk of Getting Hypertension?

  • Old age
  • Having chronic kidney disease
  • Family history of hypertension
  • Stress
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obesity
  • Too much sodium (salt) in diet

How Do I Know if I Have Hypertension?

It is important to have regular check-ups to detect Hypertension. Elevated blood pressure often causes no symptoms at all. However some people may experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nosebleeds

How Can I Control Hypertension?

If you have Hypertension, a doctor may recommend the following:

  • Lose weight if overweight or obese
  • Exercise regularly
  • Cut down your salt intake
  • Avoid alcohol intake
  • Stop smoking
  • Initiate prescribed medication
  • Practice healthy eating including less saturated fat, minimise trans fat but high in fibre


Should Treatment Continue for Life?

In the majority of patients, treatment is required for life. The doctor usually monitors blood pressure at regular intervals and evaluates the need for adjustment of drug therapy. One should not alter the medication dosage without consulting the physician. 

Some Facts about Hypertension

  • Hypertension is one of the leading causes of kidney failure in Singapore
  • One in four Singaporean adults has Hypertension
  • Hypertension is exacerbated by obesity. Losing excess weight reduces your risk and may be sufficient to control Hypertension
  • Hypertension among those with abnormal kidney function can accelerate progression to kidney failure

Hypertension and Diet

Dietary modifications, including salt and alcohol restriction, as well as weight reduction, have been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of Hypertension.

Increasing the intake of potassium, and acquiring a vegetarian diet can lower blood pressure in some patients. Lifestyle changes, such as the cessation of smoking and initiation of an aerobic exercise regimen, are important. In fact, cases of mild Hypertension may be sufficiently managed by the introduction of these lifestyle changes. 

You may follow these simple dietary guidelines to make a positive change in your health:

Shake the salt habit

  • Taste your food before adding any seasoning. Your food might already have enough flavour and will not require any seasoning
  • Do not add additional salt to cooked food
  • Use less salt when cooking. Use herbs, lemon, ginger, garlic, pepper or other spices to add flavour to your food. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is also a form of salt and should be used sparingly

  • Cut down on seasoning when cooking. Sauces contain high amounts of salt
  • Avoid food that are high in sodium, such as canned food, ham, bacon, sausages, fast food, salted snacks (nuts and chips), pickled vegetables and salted fish

Reduce fats and cholesterol

  • Steam, grill, stew, bake, boil or stir-fry your food
  • Avoid fatty meat and use lean meat or fish
  • Remove the skin from chicken or duck before cooking
  • Consume less coconut milk, egg yolk and animal innards such as liver and brain as they are high in cholesterol
  • Limit food that are high in cholesterol; do not consume more than 2-3 eggs per week
  • Use more polyunsaturated fats like soya bean, corn, sunflower or sesame oil when cooking

Go green – have more fibre

  • Include 2 portions of fruits and 2 portions of vegetables in your diet every day
  • Take whole grains, for example, take wholemeal bread in place of white bread
  • Select wholemeal biscuits or fresh fruits for snacks and desserts

Potassium power

Depletion of potassium tends to raise blood pressure. To keep potassium levels up, consume more bananas, grapefruit juice, tomatoes, oranges, baked or boiled potatoes and beans. However, if you are already suffering from kidney disease, consult your doctor or dietician before eating the above mentioned food.

Do not bottoms-up

Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink per day.

Stub out the smoking habit

The harmful chemicals in cigarettes increase the risk of heart disease. If you smoke, try to stop now. Join a support group to quit smoking. Talk to our nurse counsellors to participate in a “smoking cessation” programme.

Stretch your muscles

Sedentary living or infrequent exercise is not advisable for those with Hypertension. A programme of approved aerobic training, such as brisk walking, slow jogging, cycling or swimming at least three to four times a week is beneficial. However, it should be noted that violent or strenuous exercise such as boxing, can raise blood pressure levels. Such activities are rather dangerous for patients with Hypertension.

Changing your lifestyle is not easy. However, we will do our utmost in helping you find ways to break out of your old habits and make enjoy a healthy life.

*The above information and recommendations are general guidelines, and should not be viewed as specific advice for any individual. Please consult your physician or other health care advisors for personal health decisions.