Blood Pressure

How to Control High Blood Pressure

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Health Check Certified by Dr. Gerald Morris

If you’ve unexpectedly been diagnosed with high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), it’s not the end of the world! High blood pressure is present when a systolic blood pressure (when your heart muscle contracts) of 130-mm Hg or above or a diastolic blood pressure (when your heart muscle relaxes) of 80-mm Hg or above is observed by your doctor. Sure, you should always take the medication the doctor prescribes for your high blood pressure. However, there are additional lifestyle changes that you can make to help bring those numbers down to a healthy level.

Here are 10 lifestyle changes you can make to successfully control your blood pressure…

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1. Exercise Regularly

The best thing you can do for a soaring blood pressure is to get physically active for at least 30-minutes per day, most days of the week. This could include (but is not limited to) walking, running, biking, swimming, or yoga. It could also include a favorite sport or hobby. Whatever physical activity you choose, you’ll be rewarded by seeing those numbers lower within just a few weeks, which will go a long way at avoiding a full blown hypertension, such as heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease.

2. Healthy Eating

Eating a balanced diet that focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains), lean protein, and low-fat dairy while banishing refined sugar, excess salt, and saturated fat and cholesterol will help keep blood pressure levels safe (as well as your heart and kidneys).

3. Quit Smoking

If you smoke, you should know that your blood pressure levels increase as much as 10-mm Hg or greater following every cigarette. And if you smoke frequently throughout the day, this means that you’re constantly accelerating your blood pressure to possibly dangerous levels. If you want to quit smoking, talk to your doctor about medications that can help kick the habit!

4. Cut Salt

Reducing the salt (sodium) in your diet will instantly lower your blood pressure. So, start reading food labels, shunning processed for whole foods where you can, and keeping your sodium intake to less than 2,300-milligrams per day.

5. Shed Pounds

Blood pressure increases with weight, which means you can reduce your numbers by simply losing a few excess pounds—particularly around your middle, near your heart. Shedding as little as 10-pounds not only can decrease your blood pressure but also decrease your cholesterol levels. Your heart and your blood vessels will thank you for this.

6. De-Stress

Taking a breather from stressful work, family, social obligations, or financial obligations will also help lower your blood pressure. And if you can’t eliminate stress completely, learn to cope with stress management methods, such as exercise, massage, meditation, yoga. or tai chi.

7. Cut Caffeine

Studies show that caffeine causes blood pressure levels to spike temporarily and similarly to cigarette smoking. If you already have been with high blood pressure, cutting out caffeinated substances, such as soda, tea, and coffee, can keep your blood pressure within healthy levels and help you lose weight by cutting excess sugar and calories too.

8. Keep Drinking Moderate

Studies show that drinking alcohol in small amounts can actually help lower blood pressure. It doesn’t matter if it’s wine, beer, or spirits. However, adverse effects may occur if you imbibe too much, which is why it’s important for women to keep alcohol intake to maximum of 1 drink per day and men to stick to a maximum of 2 drinks a day.

9. Self-Monitoring

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it’s in your best interest to learn how to self-monitor your blood pressure at home. This is done using an upper arm blood pressure monitor to keep tabs on your blood pressure to ensure it stays within healthy levels between doctor’s visits. You should avoid blood pressure monitors that are not upper arm oriented, as blood pressure readings can become widely inaccurate the further away you go from the upper arm (i.e., avoid finger oriented monitors).

10. Ask for Help

Staying healthy and sticking to a new diet and exercise plan is always easier if you have the support of your family and friends. This way, if you slip off track, you’ll be encouraged by the people who love you to invest in your health and give you the physical and emotional boost to help you do so.

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Dr. Gerald Morris

Gerald Morris, MD is a physician (Family Medicine/Internal Medicine) with over 20 years expertise in the medical arena. Dr. Morris has spent time as a clinician, clinical research coordinator/manager, medical writer, and instructor. He is a proponent of patient education as a tool in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic medical conditions. Hence, his contribution to articles on Activebeat.

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