High blood pressure can be dangerous when you don’t get it treated for long periods of time. It can even lead to major health problems, like a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, vision loss and a number of other serious issues.
Of course, your health care provider can help you manage high blood pressure with medicine. But you can also lower your blood pressure on your own by incorporating healthy habits into your daily life. Get started with these helpful ideas.
Many American adults are overweight and carrying excess weight can lead to high blood pressure. Studies have shown that losing even just over two pounds can help lower it.
Start slowly. Make small changes to your diet and daily activity levels. It won’t be long before you see results.
Speaking of activity, the more you get, the better chance you have at lowering your blood pressure. Aim for at least 150 minutes of walking, swimming, biking or other aerobic exercise each week.
Cut back on salt
A good place to start when evaluating your diet is by taking a look at your current salt intake. High blood pressure and eating lots of salt often go hand in hand.
Start by using other herbs and spices to flavor your food instead of reaching for the saltshaker. Also, avoid eating out as much as possible — it’s hard to know how much salt a restaurant adds to their food. Cut back on the amount of processed foods you eat as well.
Read food labels
If you do eat some processed and prepackaged foods, read the labels on your boxes and cans. Everything from bread to soup might have more hidden salt in it than you realize.
Look for low-sodium options when possible. Purchasing fresh meats, fruits and vegetables and cooking at home are always your best options for preparing a meal.
Eat more potassium
While you’re cutting back on salt, consider adding more potassium to your diet. The mineral helps keep blood pressure under control. Bananas, tomatoes, avocados, melons, oranges and potatoes are all high in potassium.
Learn about the DASH diet
Some people try the DASH diet when they want to lower their blood pressure. DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension.” This means changing your diet to control your blood pressure.
The diet involves eating more whole grains, fresh fruit, vegetables and healthy dairy products. On DASH, you’ll cut back on salt and processed foods. As always, be sure to talk to your primary care provider before making any major changes to your eating habits.
Drink less alcohol
Once you’ve changed the way you eat, make some changes to the way you drink, too. Having too many alcoholic drinks a day can actually raise your blood pressure. Most doctors recommend only having one drink per day for women and two for men.
You already know that smoking is bad for you. It can increase your risk for health problems, ranging from strokes to certain types of cancer. What you may not know is that smoking also raises your blood pressure every time you have a cigarette. Improve your overall health by kicking this habit for good.
Manage your stress
We’re all under so much stress these days, especially because of COVID-19. Unfortunately, continuing stress can have a negative impact on your health. That includes raising your blood pressure.
Take steps to reduce your stress levels. If you can, remove the stressor from your life. If that’s not possible, find more time to relax and do things you enjoy. Simply taking a walk, reading a book or meditating for a few minutes each day can help.
Stay on top of your numbers
Finally, it’s most important to monitor your blood pressure numbers at home, especially if you have a family history of high blood pressure or you feel you’re at risk. Many people have high blood pressure. But they don’t realize it until it’s already done some damage. That’s why it’s often called the “silent killer.”
Keep a blood pressure cuff at home and see your primary care provider regularly or if your numbers change. These steps can help keep you healthy.
Want to learn more about your heart health? Take our free, online heart risk assessment today.