L’hypertension: comment la contrôler et  le régime DASH

In this text, we are going to discuss hypertension. We will see the causes, the symptoms and the diagnosis but above all see how to control or treat it by modifying the lifestyle and by the nutritional approach.

Definition of hypertension

Hypertension is characterized by persistently abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries. It is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. And unfortunately, it is very common in Canada. In fact, 40% of the Canadian population between the ages of 56 and 65 suffer from it.

Causes of hypertension 

There are two types of hypertension: primary hypertension and secondary hypertension.

Primary hypertension has no known cause, but heredity seems to be a predisposing factor. At a younger age, factors like sodium intake, obesity, and stress seem to primarily affect people with a genetic predisposition. However, in people over 65, high sodium intakes are more likely to cause hypertension.

Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure whose cause is known. The most common causes include kidney disease, hormonal disorders, and certain medications.

High blood pressure symptoms

Hypertension usually does not cause symptoms until complications develop. This is why she is nicknamed the silent killer. Severe or long-standing and untreated hypertension promotes the development of complications in certain organs such as the heart, brain, kidneys and eyes. These complications can include heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, or stroke. Symptoms due to complications caused by hypertension may include fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, chest pain, confusion, blurred vision, weakness and shortness of breath.t.

Diagnosis of hypertension

Diagnosis of hypertension is made by taking several blood pressure measurements. Several measurements should be taken at different times in order to confirm the abnormal value and make a formal diagnosis. It is important to take several measurements at different times to ensure that high blood pressure persists over time. If high blood pressure is diagnosed, additional examinations and tests are usually carried out to further assess the results.

Hypertension treatment

Primary hypertension usually cannot be cured, but it can be controlled to prevent or limit complications. For all people with high blood pressure or hypertension, lifestyle modification, especially in terms of diet and physical activity, is recommended. Antihypertensive drugs may also be prescribed if lifestyle changes are insufficient. These medications can help control high blood pressure, but it is important that treatment is tailored to each individual.

For secondary hypertension, treatment usually involves treating the cause of the high blood pressure.

Treatment of hypertension through lifestyle modification

Lifestyle changes that can help lower blood pressure and prevent complications of high blood pressure include:

  • Lose weight, for people who are overweight or obese. Even modest weight loss is beneficial and helps lower blood pressure. (See articles:18 tips for effective and lasting weight loss  as well asDiet and weight loss).
  • Start or increase the practice of physical activity. Regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure and lead to weight loss. It is also beneficial for heart health and overall health. The WHO recommends aiming for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity endurance activity per week. Before starting, consultation with a doctor is recommended.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking is one of the risk factors for the development of hypertension and heart disease.
  • Limit alcohol consumption among consumers. Two drinks or less per day for men and 1 drink or less per day for women.
  • Limit sodium intake. Healthy adults need 1500 mg of sodium per day, the equivalent of about ½ teaspoon or 2.5 ml of salt.
  • Adopt a healthy diet (e.g. DASH diet).
  • Learn to manage stress. Some relaxation methods like yoga or meditation can help you relax. (See article:Is Stress Harming Your Weight Loss?)

The nutritional approach for hypertension

The DASH diet, Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, is the nutritional approach generally recommended by health professionals for people with high blood pressure. The features of this scheme are as follows:tes:

  • A high consumption offruits and vegetables.
  • High consumption of low-fat (<2%) dairy products, such as skimmed milk and yogurt.
  • An important place given to whole grains.
  • An increase in the consumption of fish, poultry, legumes and nuts.
  • A decrease in the consumption of red meat.
  • Low consumption of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Sodium consumption limited to 1500-2300 mg/day. This corresponds to approximately ½ to 1 teaspoon of salt per day.
  • Limited consumption of sugar and sweets.
  • High consumption of foods rich inpotassium, calcium and inmagnesium. Potassium promotes the elimination of sodium.
  • Aim to consume 30 g of fiber per day.

Note: Before starting a diet, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional so that they can tailor it to your needs taking into account your personal situation.

Tips for reducing sodium intake

Here are some tips to reduce sodium consumption on a daily basis,
without compromising on taste:
  • Limit the consumption of processed products.
  • Cook more often.
  • Promote fresh foods.
  • Opt for preserves without added salt. Alternatively, rinsing canned foods removes some of the sodium.
  • Cook grains, such as pasta and rice, without adding salt.
  • Use herbs and spices, garlic and onions to season foods.
  • Taste foods before adding salt.


  1. https://www.icm-mhi.org/fr/hypertension-arterielle
  2. https://www.unlockfood.ca/fr/Articles/Sante-du-c%C5%93ur/Hypertension---how-to-prevent-and-treat-this-disease-that-kills-in-silence.aspx
  3. https://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/hypertension-art%C3%A9rielle/hypertension
  4. https://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/home/heart-and-vascular-disorders/art%C3%A9rielle-hypertension/art%C3%A9rielle-hypertension
  5. https://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/home/quick-facts-heart-and-vascular-disorders/art%C3%A9rielle-hypertension/art%C3%A9rielle-hypertension
  6. https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Heart-healthy/Eating-you-too-much-salt-.aspx
  7. https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Heart-healthy/Discover-the-secrets-of-salt.aspx
  8. https://www.heartandstroke.ca/live-healthy/healthy-eating/dash-diet


Article written by:

Marie-Noël Marsan, Nutritionist



AlimentationMode de vieSanté

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