Almost half of American adults have high blood pressure or hypertension, yet less than a quarter have their condition under control. That means more than 115 million men and women are at increased risk of serious complications, like heart disease, heart attack, stroke, vision loss, kidney failure, and dementia. While there’s no cure for hypertension, you can take steps to lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health, too.
At Healthy Life Family Medicine, John Monroe, MD, and his team help patients in Goodyear, Arizona, manage hypertension with a combination of medicine and lifestyle changes to lower their blood pressure over time. In this post, learn some simple steps to help keep your blood pressure within a healthy range.
Smoking causes lots of health problems, including increasing your blood pressure. That’s due in part to the effects of nicotine, which stimulates the release of chemicals that naturally increase blood pressure. By damaging your arteries, smoking increases the risk of atherosclerosis, another factor associated with hypertension.
The foods you eat can majorly affect your blood pressure — so much so that whole diet plans have been developed to treat or avoid hypertension. In general, fill up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy, and avoid sugary and processed foods, as well as unhealthy fats and fried foods. Cutting back on sodium is also important. Read food labels to make smart choices at the grocery store.
Be more active
Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure, too. Choose low-impact aerobic activities, like walking, swimming, biking, or even dancing, to capture the benefits of exercise without putting extra strain on your joints. Incorporate strength training a couple of days each week.
Learn to manage stress
Chronic stress is a big problem for plenty of Americans. Not only does it make you feel tense most of the time, but it can raise your blood pressure, too. Try stress-busting activities like breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation, or just set aside some daily “me” time to do something relaxing that you enjoy.
Improve your sleep habits
While an occasional poor night’s sleep is usually nothing to worry about, chronic sleep problems can lead to hypertension over time. Poor sleep interferes with hormone levels that affect your blood pressure. Plus, because your blood pressure naturally decreases with sleep, when you’re awake for more hours, that’s more time when your blood pressure is higher.
Keep alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man. Drinking more than that could raise your blood pressure by several points — plus, it interferes with the next item on this list: weight management.
Drop extra pounds
If you’re overweight, you’re also more likely to have high blood pressure. Being overweight also increases the risk of sleep problems that can contribute to hypertension. The good news: Many items on this list (like healthy eating and exercise) do double-duty, helping lower your blood pressure while promoting a healthy weight.
Learn how to manage your blood pressure
Hypertension rarely causes any symptoms, which means you may have high blood pressure and not even know it. Regular annual physicals are important for catching hypertension early, and investing in a blood pressure cuff for your home can help, too.
To learn more about managing hypertension and how we can help, call 623-889-3477 to book an appointment with the team at Healthy Life Family Medicine today.