Mind & Body
8 Tips to Control Blood Pressure Without Medication
5/5/2017 1:35:19 PM

High blood pressure plays a contributing role in more than 15% of deaths in the United States, according to a Harvard study. The American Heart Association reports approximately 30% of Americans suffer from high blood pressure, but don’t know it.

Lifestyle plays an important role in your blood pressure. By making appropriate choices, you can potentially avoid, delay, or reduce the need for medication. Here are eight lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure and keep it down:

1. Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline

Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Weight loss is one of the most effective changes for controlling blood pressure. Losing just ten pounds can help reduce your blood pressure. Besides shedding pounds, you should also keep an eye on your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your middle can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure. In general, men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than forty inches, and women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches.

2. Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity — at least thirty minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure and help you avoid hypertension. It’s important to be consistent. If you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again. The best types of exercise for lowering blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, and dancing. Strength training also can help reduce blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program.

3. Eat a healthy diet

Eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure. This eating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. 

4. Reduce sodium in your diet - The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure varies. In general, limit sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams a day. However, a lower sodium intake — 1,500 mg a day or less — is appropriate for people with greater salt sensitivity, including: African-Americans, anyone age 51 or older, and anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. To decrease sodium in your diet, choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy, eat fewer processed foods, don’t add salt to your food or use sparingly, and increase your potassium consumption. Potassium, found in fruits and vegetables, can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure.

5. imit the amount of alcohol you drink 

Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. In small amounts, it can potentially lower your blood pressure, but that protective effect is lost if you drink too much -- generally more than one drink a day. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points. 

6. Quit smoking

Each cigarette you smoke can increase your blood pressure. Quitting helps your blood pressure return to normal. People who quit smoking have substantial increases in life expectancy.

7. Reduce stress

Chronic stress is an important contributor to high blood pressure. Occasional stress can also contribute to high blood pressure if you react to it by eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol, or smoking. Take time to think about what causes you to feel stressed, and consider how you can eliminate or reduce it. Check online for tips to reduce stress.

8. Seek support

Supportive family and friends can help improve your health. They may encourage you to take care of yourself, drive you to the doctor’s office, or embark on an exercise program with you to keep your blood pressure low. If you find you need support beyond your family and friends, consider joining a support group. This may put you in touch with people who can give you a morale boost or offer additional practical tips to cope with your condition.

Posted by: Sylvia Ney | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Health

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