Top 10 Lifestyle Changes to Control High Blood Pressure
If you have a history of heart disease or have been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure), these 10 lifestyle tips will help keep your blood pressure under control.
We do not claim we have the formula for reducing high blood pressure, but we do know that lifestyle plays an essential role in our well-being. Mayo Clinic experts have come to the conclusion that by following a healthy lifestyle, patients diagnosed with or at risk of hypertension might avoid, delay or even reduce the need of medication. Here’s what they recommend:
Apart from losing weight, experts say you should also watch your waistline. Too much fat accumulated around your waist can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
Here’s what you should know. Mayo Clinic experts caution that men whose waist measurement is higher than 40 inches (or 102 cm) are at risk of developing heart disease. Similarly, women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches (or 89 cm) are likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
These values vary from patient to patient. Ask your doctor about the healthy waist measurement for you.
Regular exercise of at least 30 minutes most days of the week, if not daily, can help reduce your blood pressure by 4 to 9 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). It’s crucially important to be consistent because if you stop working out, then odds are pretty high that your blood pressure increase again.
If your blood pressure is slightly above the normal levels (prehypertension), physical activity can help you avoid developing full-scale hypertension and even more critical conditions that it can lead to. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, exercising regularly can lower blood pressure to safer values.
Eating healthy is essential. Regular consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy can reduce your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg. This protocol is also known as the Dietary approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
Keep a food diary. Conscientiously writing down what you eat, when and why will give you a clear overview of your dietary habits. This way, you will be able to monitor what you eat, how much, what time of day, and why. If you’re tech savvy, try an app to record your food; some of them even have a bar code scanner to capture the calorie and nutritional content without you having to search for it!
Add potassium to your diet. Potassium is known to minimize the effect of sodium on blood pressure. Eat fruits and vegetables that are rich in potassium rather than supplements. Seek medical advice as to the potassium level recommended for you.
Even a small reduction in your dietary sodium can help drop blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg.
The influence of sodium on blood pressure varies on a case by case basis. Generally, it is advisable to reduce sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg daily. However, a sodium intake of 1,500 en mg daily or even less is recommended for people with greater salt sensitivity, including: African-Americans, people aged 51 and older, anyone suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, and/or chronic kidney disease.
The following tips can help you reduce the sodium in your diet:
Read product labels. Ideally choose low-sodium versions of the foods and beverages you usually buy.
Cut back on processed foods. Sodium is naturally found only in small amounts in foods. Most sodium is added while processing.
Say “No” to salt! 1 level teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium. If you feel that your food needs more flavor, add herbs or spices.
Take it step by step. If you can’t reduce the sodium in your diet drastically, reduce it gradually. Your taste buds will adjust in time.
Alcohol can have both positive and negative effects on your health. In moderate amounts, it can bring your blood pressure down by 2 to 4 mm Hg.
However, the protective effect is lost if you drink alcohol above certain limits. The recommended intake varies depending on gender and age. So, to gather health benefits from drinking alcohol, you shouldn’t have more than one drink a day if you’re a woman or a man above 65 years of age. Similarly, if you’re a man aged 65 or younger, you shouldn’t have more than two drinks a day. One drink is estimated to equal 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
Doctors warn that consuming alcohol in more than moderate amounts can make blood pressure jump by several points. Additionally, it can also make blood pressure medications less effective.
Give Up Smoking
It has been scientifically confirmed that blood pressure increases with each cigarette you smoke for many minutes after you’ve finished. Quitting smoking helps your blood pressure drop to normal values. Smoking quitters, irrespective of their age, are more likely to live longer and healthier than non-quitters.
Drink Less Caffeine
A lot of debate still goes around the role of caffeine in increasing blood pressure. Caffeine can indeed cause blood pressure to jump by 10 mm Hg in people who consume it every now and then, but it has little to no effect on blood pressure in habitual coffee drinkers.
Although the effects of heavy caffeine consumption on blood pressure are yet unclear, the possibility of a slight rise in blood pressure does exist.
To find out if caffeine is responsible for any jumps in your blood pressure, measure your blood pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a caffeinated beverage. If your blood pressure rises by 5 to 10 mm Hg, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure increasing effects of caffeine. Consult your doctor about the impact of caffeine on your blood pressure.
Stress, regardless of its degree, is an important cause of high blood pressure. Smoking, eating unhealthy food or drinking alcohol are often common reactions to stress, which account for blood pressure increase.
Allow yourself some time to think carefully what is the cause of your stress. Is it work, family, financial situation, illness or all of these combined? Once you determine what is/are in fact your stressor(s), look into how you can stave off or reduce stress.
Here are a few tips you can consider:
Stop expecting too much. Allow yourself enough time to get things done. Sometimes saying “no” is healthy. Learning to say “no” and living within manageable limits is key in many circumstances. Train yourself to accept the things you cannot change.
Strategize every move to solve the problems you have control over. Tactfully approach your boss and discuss the problems you’re facing at work or, if you’re overcome by family problems, talk to your loved ones and try to find a way to solve them together.
Identify and avoid any stress triggers. For instance, avoid or spend as little time as possible with people who bother you or avoid driving or going out at rush hours.
Be grateful. Practicing gratitude by letting others know you appreciate them and/or their work can diminish stress and ward off stress-causing thoughts.
Check Your Blood Pressure at Home and Don’t Skip Doctor’s Visits
Monitoring your blood pressure at home can help you keep your blood pressure under control, make sure your lifestyle changes are viable, and keep you and your doctor vigilant about any potential complications. Blood pressure monitors are widely available without prescription.
Regular visits to your treating doctor are also essential to keeping your blood pressure in check. If your values are normal or close to normal, you may need to visit your cardiologist every six to 12 months only, depending on other associated conditions you might have. If your blood pressure is not well-monitored, your doctor may wish to see you more often.
Ask For and Get Support
Your close ones can offer you the best support to help improve your condition. They are the ones to encourage you to look after yourself, give you a lift to your doctor’s office or even enroll in an exercise program with you to give you a boost.
If you require support beyond your family or friends, join a support group. This may be your chance to get in touch with people who can help you better cope with your condition by giving you practical tips as well as emotional and moral support.
Try this expert formula to reduce your blood pressure and you will notice significant improvements sooner than you’ve expected! Don’t stress and stay tuned for more healthy living tips!