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By treating high blood pressure, also called hypertension, you can help reduce your risk for a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or kidney failure. Here are steps you can take now:
- Lose weight if you're overweight.
- Eat a heart healthy diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars. Emphasize a variety of deeply colored fruits and vegetables; fiber-rich whole grains; fat-free, 1 percent fat and low-fat dairy products; lean meats and skinless poultry; fish with healthy omega-3 fatty acids; and nuts, seeds, and legumes.
- Be more physically active.
- Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks a day for men.
- Take medicine the way your doctor tells you.
- Know what your blood pressure should be and work to keep it at that level.
Many people have high blood pressure without knowing it. Once you know about your condition, though, you can reduce your risk and live a healthier life. It takes proper treatment and some changes in your lifestyle. But it’s worth it!
To reduce high blood pressure, the biggest thing you can do is to change your lifestyle, mainly your diet and activity level. Following are some actions you can take:
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- Increase your activity level and exercise more.
- Cut back on salt and monitor your sodium intake.
- Cut back on cholesterol, fats and red meats.
- Cut back on alcohol.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Lose weight. If you lose about 20 pounds you can drop your blood pressure 10 to 20 points.
- Stop smoking.
High blood pressure (or hypertension) is very common, especially in adults over 50.
Make sure you know what your blood pressure is by checking it periodically. Ideally, blood pressure should be less than 130/80. If yours is higher than that, whether you’re taking medications or not, talk to your doctor about bringing it down.
You can reduce your blood pressure by eating less salt, getting to a healthy weight, reducing your stress and exercising regularly.
High blood pressure can also contribute to other health issues such as heart disease, strokes and kidney failure. They don’t call hypertension the “silent killer” for nothing!
To treat high blood pressure (hypertension), your healthcare provider will create a treatment plan for you. Your treatment plan will be based on the results of your tests, your physical examination, and on your individual needs.
Making healthy lifestyle choices is an important part of treatment because these choices can help bring high blood pressure under control. These lifestyle choices may include losing extra weight, eating meals with less fat and salt, limiting alcohol to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for woman, and starting a regular exercise program approved by your healthcare provider. If you are a smoker, your healthcare provider will advise you to stop. Smoking increases your risk of complications such as heart attacks or strokes.
Medicines may also be needed to get your blood pressure under control. There are many effective medicines for lowering high blood pressure. Sometimes a combination of different medicines may be needed. These medicines should be taken as instructed, even if you are feeling fine. This is because high blood pressure is damaging even though you may not experience any symptoms.
Strategies for reducing high blood pressure include regular walking 10 to 12 minutes a day. In this video, Sam Diasti, MD, an internist at Memorial Hospital of Tampa, describes other strategies, including reducing your intake of salt.
Weight reduction is the most significant thing you can do to prevent high blood pressure. In addition, follow these tips:
- Take baby aspirin: Most people think baby aspirin is only used to prevent heart attacks by thinning the blood, but it can also reduce high blood pressure by slowing production of the hormones that control blood pressure while you sleep. Take it at night to help you lower blood pressure when you wake up in the morning, the time when you are more likely to have elevated blood pressure due to constricted blood vessels. If you’re over 40, or if you have risk factors for high blood pressure, take two baby aspirin at night.
- Drink hibiscus tea: Drinking three cups of hibiscus tea has been shown to help lower blood pressure. It's available at health food stores for about $5.
You can change several dietary and lifestyle habits to help reduce your risk. Among these are your weight and your physical activity level.
Individuals who are obese are twice as likely to have hypertension as those at a healthy weight. Even a modest weight loss can have an impact. Losing as little as 10 pounds can reduce a person’s blood pressure, and may actually prevent hypertension in overweight individuals even if they haven’t yet reached a healthy weight. Additional weight loss can have an even more dramatic effect on blood pressure.
Regular physical activity can lower blood pressure even if weight loss hasn’t occurred.
Treatment of high blood pressure depends on the patient, but can include diet, exercise and medication changes. Watch Karon LoCicero, MD, of Memorial Hospital of Tampa, explain how to reduce high blood pressure.
Eat a plant based diet. Plant based diets are higher in potassium and magnesium whichhelp keep arteries pliable and soft. This pliability helps prevent high blood pressure. Avoid foods that cause hardening of the arteries like fatty proteins, fried foods, and refined sugars and flours. Limit sodium. Avoid salty packaged foods, cured meats, olives, and commercially prepared baked goods. Throw away the salt shaker on your table!
These are a few simple strategies for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels: Consume a diet based on whole plant foods – vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts and seeds. Plant foods contain many natural substances that help to keep blood pressure in the favorable range – for example, flavonoids in berries and arginine and minerals in nuts and seeds. Avoid substances that elevate blood pressure, specifically salt, alcohol, added sugars and caffeine. Also, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly will have additional beneficial effects on blood pressure. It not vegetarian, its nutritarian; my book, Eat For Health has the detailed instructions, menu plans and recipes for you to begin today.
Simply by lowering processed food can help decrease blood pressure. Following a DASH diet (dietary approach to stop hypertension) will aid in lowering blood pressure too. Consuming whole grains, lowering added salt, high potassium, which comes form fresh fruits and vegetables, all help lower blood pressure. Consult with a Registered Dietitian to get an appropriate diet right for yourself.
Reducing salt and caffeine, along with exercise and weight loss, can help bring elevated blood pressure down. Medication may also be necessary to control high blood pressure.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.