High blood pressure causes countless health complications. Whether yours stems from genetics, obesity, age, drug or alcohol use, or something else, you know that the consequences of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, are heart disease, stroke, aneurysms, and other serious conditions. However, unlike so many health issues, you can actually reverse your hypertension and increase your quality of life by making some simple, yet powerful, adjustments in your daily life.
John Monroe, MD, and Natalie Lake, MD at Healthy Life Family Medicine can help you figure out what’s causing your hypertension and how to treat it. He can also help you understand the risks of high blood pressure and how to prevent it. Although some people need medication to help them stay healthy with hypertension, many of Dr. Monroe and Dr. Lake’s patients control their symptoms and lower their blood pressure successfully by following these valuable lifestyle tips. Just to be safe, make sure you check in with Dr. Monroe and Dr. Lake before taking up any new activities or diets.
Hit the gym.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to lower your blood pressure. Choose aerobic exercises that get your heart pumping, like swimming, jogging, dancing, or even walking briskly. Consistency and regularity are key here. Try to exercise for about 30 minutes at a time, at least three times a week — it may lower your blood pressure by 5-8 mm Hg.
Another benefit of exercise is that you may shed some excess weight and inches, especially around your midsection. Studies show that women with a waistline more than 35 inches are at a higher risk for high blood pressure, as are men whose waists exceed 40 inches.
Watch what you eat.
Certain foods raise your blood pressure, and others lower it. Simply by avoiding the culprits and eating more of the good ones, you can dramatically change your numbers. For instance, salt is a known enemy of hypertensive people. Though everybody is different, it’s a good general rule of thumb to keep your daily salt intake under 2,300 mg, but lower is even better.
A good way to sack the salt in your diet is to eliminate processed foods and fast food, and stop shaking the shaker. Another way to battle sodium is to eat foods high in potassium like bananas and other fruits and vegetables.
Beware of beverages.
Food isn’t the only thing you ingest that can wreak havoc with your blood pressure. Alcohol and caffeine are also major culprits.
Alcohol actually has a love-hate relationship with hypertension. A 12-ounce glass of beer or wine a day can actually help lower blood pressure in many people, but cross that line and your numbers will go up.
Caffeine, on the other hand, is always a no-no if you’re trying to manage your blood pressure. Some people see a 10 mm Hg spike compared to those who refrain from caffeinated drinks.
If you are under a lot of stress, you may increase your risk for hypertension. Long-term stress can be especially dangerous, as your body can’t maintain that level of anxiety without reacting with some type of physical response.
The best course of action is to learn what triggers your stress, and resolve it or avoid it. Of course, that’s easier said than done. You can try many techniques to lower your stress and your blood pressure:
- Breathing exercises
- Mental imagery
- Anger management classes
Kick your smoking habit.
The nicotine from your cigarettes elevates your blood pressure the minute you inhale and keeps it up even once you’ve crushed it out. The good news is that once you quit, you’ll see a significant drop in your blood pressure immediately. When you consider the other risks associated with smoking, not the least of which is lung cancer, getting rid of the smokes makes good sense for your overall health.
Clearly, preventing or reducing high blood pressure is doable. If you have questions about whether any of these lifestyle changes are right for you, call our office today, or click the “Request an Appointment” button to schedule a consultation with Healthy Life Family Medicine.