Abnormally high blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is common and can be fatal. Sometimes, even when there are no symptoms of hypertension, it can still be present and put a person at major risk of stroke and heart disease.
Thankfully, there are lifestyle changes everyone can make to help with lowering blood pressure and improving heart health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, living a healthy lifestyle can help you can keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels balanced. Not seeing the results you want? Don’t worry there are many effective high blood pressure medications
1. Lose Weight and Reduce Sugar Intake
Being overweight is stressful for your whole body. When someone is overweight, even a reduction of five pounds can help. Talk to your healthcare provider about what a healthy weight is for you. Then, strive for a healthy weight to maintain your overall health.
An optimal way to have success on your weight loss journey is to cut back on sugar. Many studies have shown a scientific connection between cutting out refined carbohydrates and sugar followed by losing weight and lowering blood pressure. Plus, if you are on a diet that prioritizes protein and vegetables, you will feel more full and less hungry for longer periods of time.
2. Exercise for Heart Health
Regular exercise increases your heart rate. With that increase in your breathing and heart rate, your heart gets stronger. A stronger heart means it can pump with less effort, reducing the strain on your arteries and lowering your blood pressure.
For optimal results, individuals should strive to exercise at least three times each week for 40 minutes. The effort level of the physical activity should be of moderate to vigorous levels of intensity. To start, many find it helpful to break the 40 minutes into smaller increments of time. For example, three 15-minute sessions of activity during your day will add up to 45 minutes of exercise.
Ways to start moving more:
- Garden in your yard.
- Take the stairs.
- Walk on your lunch break.
- Dance in your living room.
- Dust, vacuum, and wash the windows.
- Park on the far edge of the parking lot.
- Have walking meetings at work.
- Workout while watching TV.
- Play a sport.
3. Talk to Your Healthcare Provider About Medication
Of course, talking to your doctor will give you an indicator on the best path for your own health. If you are not seeing any changes after making several lifestyle changes or if your blood pressure is extremely high, medications (like Lisinopril or Valsartan) might be the best solution, particularly if there are additional risk factors in your health history.
Possible health solutions need to be talked over with your primary healthcare provider; with medical advice you can determine how to promote your personal heart health.
4. Leave Processed Food at the Store
Reducing your salt intake can help you achieve your health goals and most of the added salt in your diet is not from your home salt shaker. A diet full of restaurant food and processed foods increases an individual’s sodium intake.
High-salt foods are popular, including canned soups, chips, and deli meats. Cutting out processed foods (or at least cutting back) will help to lower your blood pressure. Homemade meals have less salt and sugar and tend to be healthier. If you are not sure what to eat try these foods that are proven to help with hypertension.
The American Heart Association has recommendations for optimal sodium intake, including no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day for most adults. They advise that ideally, adults should have no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
5. Tips to Reduce Stress
From family commitments to career demands, stress is common. Exploring ways to reduce excess stress can promote good health. Some paths to relieve stress include taking walks, reading books, and listening to music.
People also find mindfulness and meditation helpful. Yoga is a popular method to reduce blood pressure and daily stress. With a yoga practice that includes posture, breath control, and meditation techniques, stress can dissipate.
6. Get the Rest Your Body Needs
A good night’s sleep helps to decrease blood pressure. Someone who is sleep deprived is at greater risk of health complications. That said, many people want to sleep more than they do, but are simply not able to get a full eight hours a night due to life’s commitments. There are strategies to help those people achieve the restful sleep their body needs, including keeping a consistent sleep schedule, getting plenty of exercise during the day, avoiding naps, and relaxing in the evening, away from screens, before going to sleep for the night.
Studies report an increase in hypertension when individuals sleep less than seven hours a night. There is an even sharper spike, and an increase in the possibility of long-term hypertension, for individuals who consistently sleep less than five hours each night.
7. Drink Less Alcohol
When individuals drink too much alcohol, it can increase their blood pressure. After three drinks, your blood pressure can increase, and drinking more than three drinks in one sitting repeatedly increases many health risks.
To maintain good health and keep blood pressure at healthy levels, it is important to not drink alcohol or to only drink it in small, moderate amounts. Plus, alcohol contains calories and being overweight can increase high blood pressure. Drinking less alcohol can help with multiple health goals at once. The American Heart Association recommends drinking alcoholic beverages only in moderation, if at all.
Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of 14 drinks per week for men. For women, the amount is seven drinks per week.
One drink is defined as the following:
- 12 fluid ounces of beer (at or less than 5% alcohol).
- 5 fluid ounces of wine (at or less than 12% alcohol)
- 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits (including gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, and tequila).
Also, anyone who smokes needs to quit. Smoking tobacco can create inflammation in your heart and cause harm to your blood vessels. Narrow, hardened arteries can result in a blood pressure increase. Not smoking is the best choice for a healthy lifestyle.
8. Notice Your Caffeine Consumption
It is temporary, but caffeine does raise an individual’s blood pressure. The effect of caffeine is different from person to person. If an individual is sensitive to the impact of caffeine, it may be helpful to cut back (or avoid) caffeine altogether. Try cutting out caffeine after lunch, or at least limiting yourself to a few coffee and energy drinks per week.
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