What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is also called high blood pressure. 1 in 3 Singaporeans has high blood pressure. It usually does not have any noticeable signs, but it can be harmful to your health if not managed. It is like a strong river pushing against its banks. If left unchecked or untreated, it can damage your blood vessels, heart, kidney, eye or other organs over time and cause serious complications.

How do I know if I have Hypertension?

Regular monitoring of your blood pressure (BP) is the best way to keep track of your health. You can easily perform this measurement at home using a blood pressure monitor. Stay proactive in maintaining your well-being by incorporating regular checks into your routine.

Blood pressure should be taken under resting conditions and on more than one occasion, as it can fluctuate with the time of day, physical activity, or emotions like stress. In addition, diet and lifestyle choices play a big role in influencing blood pressure. Your blood pressure can increase when:

  • Your blood volume is increased due to high salt intake, which retains more water in the body.

  • Your blood vessels become more rigid due to atherosclerosis, a process where fatty substances are deposited in the blood vessel walls.
As such, poor lifestyle choices such as an unhealthy diet high in salt, lack of exercise, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption, can contribute to high blood pressure.

Below are the different categories for blood pressure levels in adults aged 18 years and above.
Source: ACE Clinical Guidance (ACG) Hypertension Dec 2023
Blood Pressure (BP) Level (mmHg)
Category  Systolic BP (mmHg) Diastolic BP (mmHg)
Normal BP  <130 <80
High - Normal BP ≥130 - 139 ≥85 - 90 
Grade 1 Hypertension ≥140 - 159 ≥90- 99
Grade 2 Hypertension and above ≥160* ≥100*
Please note that the above table refers to the general classification of blood pressures. However, different individuals may have different blood pressure targets depending on their age and health status. Please check with your healthcare provider on your personalised blood pressure target.

Seek medical attention immediately if your BP readings are abnormal*.

What are the potential symptoms? 

While hypertension typically does not present noticeable symptoms, it can sometimes provide warning signs such as:
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nosebleeds
  • Trouble seeing
  • Chest pain

If you experience any of these symptoms, please seek medical advice or consult your doctor as soon as possible.

What can I do about it?

It’s easy to ignore because hypertension has no symptoms. But monitoring high blood pressure at home regularly and taking steps to lower it can save your life. Keep track of your numbers and share them with your doctor.

Make healthy lifestyle changes such as:

  • Fuel your body right: Say hello to delicious, healthy choices! Fill your plate with colorful fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Think rainbow!

  • Cook more at home: Whip up healthy dishes in your own kitchen. Bonus points for trying new recipes!

  • Eating out smart: Craving hawker food? No problem! Just ask for less salt and sauces on the side. Taste before you add, and avoid soup and gravy, they are sodium ninjas!

  • Be grocery shopping savvy: Fresh is best! Choose natural ingredients and compare sodium levels.

  • Get Moving!: Exercise is your blood pressure buddy! Aim for at least 150 minutes light to moderate activity per week, 30 mins per day. Walking, swimming, dancing – anything that gets your heart pumping counts!

  • Weight watcher: Keeping your weight in check helps your blood pressure too. Talk to your doctor about your BMI or learn more about healthy weight here: What is a Healthy Weight? (healthhub.sg)

  • Stress Less, Live More: Unwind with yoga, meditation, or nature walks. Stress is a blood pressure bully, so breathe in and let the tension go.

  • Say No to cigarettes and booze: Smoking and heavy drinking raise your blood pressure like nobody's business. Kick those bad habits and choose a healthier path!

What about medication?

If lifestyle changes are not enough, consult your doctor and work out a treatment plan if needed, to help control your blood pressure. Always talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any medications.

Closing Thoughts

Whether you are managing hypertension, maintaining good health, or dealing with a heart condition, consistent at-home blood pressure monitoring is one of the keys to prevention of complications. Let us ease the pressure on your heart together!

Further Readings:

Eat to Lower Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure: Medication
Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
What to Do When You Have Resistant High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure: Understanding Blood Pressure (BP) Readings
High Blood Pressure: Healthy Eating Guide