Four Key Messages for World Hypertension Day

May 17th is World Hypertension Day and the theme for 2010 is Healthy Weight, Healthy Blood Pressure.  Hypertension is a major cause and complication of kidney disease. Most people think of cutting down on their salt intake when they have high blood pressure but achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is also a critical part of preventing and controlling hypertension.

There are 4 key messages this year for World Hypertension Day and they are:

  • Check your waist – a healthy waist circumference for adult men is less than 94cm and it is less than 80cm for adult women
  • Eat green – increase your fruits and vegetables (if you have to follow a potassium restriction choose whole fruits and vegetables in the amount recommended by your dietitian)
  • Exercise – take it slow and gradually build up your exercise tolerance
  • Cut salt – avoid processed foods and don’t add salt to your food

It’s hard to imagine, but it’s estimated that as many as 1 billion people worldwide are overweight and we know that childhood obesity is on the rise.  Without making lifestyle changes that includes both nutrition and physical activity, this problem will only get worse.  Everyone is busy and exercise is very often the first thing we cut out of our busy schedules.  For any lifestyle change to be effective it must first be sustainable and fit in with your schedule.  My short-lived plan of going for a brisk walk at 5 A.M. before work lasted only one morning (and consisted of snoozing the alarm until my kids woke up).  Going out in the evening fits much better into my routine.  Don’t skip meals – almost everyone I see for obesity counseling skips at least one meal per day.

For more information on hypertension check out

Finding fast and healthy alternatives to the usual high fat, high salt meals can be a challenge.  Many people rely on a can of soup as the base of their supper meal. Here is a low sodium, low fat, and delicious alternative to using a canned cream soup as a sauce for chicken.  This recipe was given to my by a patient many years ago and I sometimes substitute dry white wine for half of the broth.

Chicken in Mushroom Sauce
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp light sour cream
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup chicken broth (use a no salt added brand)
4 chicken breasts (not “seasoned”)
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp nonhydrogenated margarine
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, quartered
3 chopped green onions
Fresh ground pepper and chopped fresh parsley to taste

Mix together 2tsp flour, sour cream, mustard and 2tbsp of chicken broth. Set aside. Sprinkle chicken with thyme and pepper then dredge in flour.  Melt margarine in large nonstick pan on medium-low heat. Cook chicken for about 5 minutes per side or until no longer pink inside.  Remove chicken and keep warm.

Add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add remaining chicken broth, increase heat to high and boil for 3 minutes. Whisk in sour cream mixture; add green onions.  Stir until thickened (about 3 minutes).  Pour over chicken, garnish with pepper and parsley and serve.

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