Expert advocates for precise blood pressure measurement

Dr Rajan offers heart-healthy tips ahead of World Hypertension Day

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KUWAIT CITY, May 5: In an exclusive interview with Dr. Rajesh Rajan, a senior cardiologist and prominent figure in the field of cardiovascular health, insightful recommendations for patients with high blood pressure were discussed. As the world gears up to observe World Hypertension Day on May 17, Dr. Rajan shed light on the importance of accurate blood pressure measurement and the upcoming May Measurement Month (MMM) campaign. World Hypertension Day, organised by the World Hypertension League, aims to create awareness about the prevention, detection, and treatment of high blood pressure. Coinciding with this significant day, the May Measurement Month (MMM) campaign will run from 1st May to 31st July 2024. Dr. Rajan emphasized that this year’s theme for World Hypertension Day, “Measure your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer,” aims to address the low awareness rates of hypertension globally, particularly in low to middle-income regions. Precise blood pressure measurement methods are being promoted to combat this issue.

During the interview, Dr. Rajan highlighted several ways in which individuals can actively participate in the campaigns. He urged people to get their blood pressure checked by visiting their general practitioner, family doctor, or a local pharmacy. Additionally, he encouraged individuals to motivate their friends, family members, and patients to have their blood pressure monitored. Sharing information and resources about hypertension on social media platforms and with loved ones was also emphasised.

When it comes to measuring blood pressure, Dr. Rajan stressed the importance of following the correct procedure. He advised individuals to avoid:
1. Smoking
2. Drinking alcohol or consuming caffeinated beverages for at least 30 minutes before taking the measurement.
3. Emptying the bladder prior to measurement and finding a quiet room with a comfortable temperature. Dr. Rajan further advised sitting upright in a chair with legs uncrossed and feet flat on the floor.

Resting quietly for 5 minutes before taking the reading and positioning the arm at heart level were essential steps. Dr. Rajan recommended taking three readings at 1-minute intervals and calculating the average of the last two readings.

Talking during and between measurements should be avoided. For those measuring blood pressure at home, Dr. Rajan emphasised the use of validated automated electronic blood pressure devices with cuffs for the upper arm. He cautioned against purchasing devices that have not undergone rigorous scientific testing for accuracy. To find a list of validated devices, individuals were directed to visit the website of STRIDE BP, an international non-profit organisation supported by the ISH, the European Society of Hypertension, and the World Hypertension League.

Dr. Rajan underlined the importance of taking control of one’s blood pressure and actively participating in World Hypertension Day 2024. By doing so, individuals can contribute to spreading awareness about the significance of accurate blood pressure measurement and the management of hypertension. Switching gears, Dr. Rajan also provided valuable insights into adopting a heart-healthy diet. He explained that the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan has proven results in improving heart health.

Dr. Rajan offered the following tips to make DASH work for individuals:
1. Change gradually: Gradually increase vegetable intake by adding a serving at lunch and another at dinner. Incorporate fruit into meals or enjoy it as a snack. Increase consumption of milk, yogurt, and cheese to three servings per day, opting for fat-free or low-fat options.
2. Read the Nutrition Facts label: Be mindful of saturated and trans fat content when choosing frozen and prepared meals, pizza, and desserts. Opt for options with the lowest levels of these unhealthy fats.
3. Vary protein sources: Choose lean cuts of meat, remove poultry skin, and select ground meats and poultry with lower saturated fat. Include fish in the diet once or twice a week as a substitute for meat or poultry. Aim for two or more vegetarian meals each week.
4. Select nutritious snacks: Opt for fruits canned in their own juice or packed in water. Fresh fruits and dried fruits make convenient and healthy snacks. Consider snack ideas such as unsalted rice cakes, a mix of nuts and raisins, graham crackers, fat-free or low-fat yogurt, popcorn without added salt or butter, and raw vegetables.
5. Make healthy substitutions: Choose whole grain foods for most grain servings to increase nutrient intake, including minerals and fiber. Opt for whole wheat bread or whole grain cereals. Consider lactase enzyme pills or lactose-free milk if you have trouble digesting milk and milk products. Use beans or seeds as an alternative if allergic to nuts.

Dr. Rajan is a renowned Indian cardiologist at Al Amiri Hospital Kuwait and Chairman of the Indian Association of Clinical Cardiologists. Dr. Rajan also holds prestigious positions as the current President of the Association of MD Physicians and the Managing Editor of the esteemed Annals of Clinical Cardiology Journal by Wolters Kluwer. His contributions to the medical community are highly regarded, with notable achievements that include the invention of the RHF Risk Score calculator for heart failure patients and the development of Rajan’s and Kotevski’s modified Lipton’s classification. Beyond his groundbreaking research, Dr. Rajan has garnered recognition through various Fellowships from esteemed institutions such as the Royal College of London, Edinburgh, Ireland, and Glasgow. Moreover, he has been honored as a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the European Society of Cardiology, and the American Heart Association, further highlighting his expertise and commitment to cardiovascular health.

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