Wondering How to Control High Blood Pressure?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is often referred to as the “silent killer”. The condition often has no apparent symptoms, but it increases the chances of stroke and heart disease, both leading causes of death in America. It is very important to keep hypertension under control once you have been diagnosed with it.
By the numbers: Blood Pressure Statistics
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29% of adults, or approximately 75 million American people have hypertension, which means one in every three individuals have high blood pressure. Of these, only 54%, or about half, have their ailment under control.
Also, one in every three American adult falls in the pre-hypertensive stage, which means that their blood pressure is higher than the normal range, and they are more prone to have high blood pressure in the next few years.
What are the prehypertension and hypertensive values?
A blood pressure reading of 120/80 mmHg or less is considered as a normal reading, and values over 130/80 mmHg are deemed as a hypertensive condition. Readings that fall in between 120/80 mmHg – 130/80 mmHg are considered to be as a pre-hypertensive state.
What you should do to keep your blood pressure under control?
If you are diagnosed with prehypertension or high blood pressure, you can keep your blood pressure under control with some basic lifestyle changes, and if need be medication.
Here are 7 ways that you should adopt to keep your blood pressure under control.
7 ways you need to adopt to keep your blood pressure under check
Controlling your blood pressure, to an extent is entirely in your own hands, all you need to do is be disciplined and start living a healthy lifestyle.
1- Start eating a balanced and healthy diet – A balanced and healthy diet plays a very important role in regulating your blood pressure. While changing your eating habit is not easy, in order to control your blood pressure you need to alter your diet, and start eating healthy foods. Add vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and dairy products that are low in fats to your diet plan. Also, eat food that has low saturated fats and cholesterol levels to lower your blood pressure. When you start following this diet plan, your blood pressure values can come down by as much as 14 mmHg.
Also, make sure that your potassium intake increases, which helps your blood pressure levels to remain in normal range by countering the effects of sodium. It is advisable to increase your potassium levels from natural foods, rather than taking supplements. Switch to foods that are a rich source of potassium, such as vegetables and fruits. Your physician will let you know the recommended levels of potassium consumption required in your case.
Always read the food labels when you go grocery shopping, this will help you know what you need to buy. Keep tabs on what, and how much you eat, as this would provide you the insight about your eating habits. You can always make requisite changes to your diet if you know your shortcomings.
2- Increase your physical activity and exercise regularly – How does increased physical activity and exercise help lower your blood pressure levels? As your breathing and heart rate increases, you provide more strength to your heart, and it requires less effort to pump blood. The pressure exerted on your arteries gets reduced, and this lowers your blood pressure.
If you exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes, it can bring down your blood pressure levels between 4 – 9 mmHg. But, the catch here is that you have to exercise on a regular basis, or else your blood pressure levels can again go up. The exercises which are appropriate for bringing down your hypertension include jogging, walking, cycling, dancing and swimming. Strength training is another form of exercise that can help lower your high blood pressure. You should always consult your physician to figure an exercise regimen for your condition.
If you are pre-hypertensive, regular exercise would ensure that you don’t become hypertensive. While, if you already have hypertension, exercising on a regular basis can lower your blood pressure levels, and decrease your risk factors.
3- If you are overweight, then you need to shed those extra pounds – As your weight increases, chances of developing high blood pressure also rises. Hence, if you are overweight, then you have to devise ways to shed those extra pounds. A decrease of 10 pounds can significantly lower your blood pressure levels. You also need to control your waistline, if you want your blood pressure to remain within safe limits, as people with big bellies are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
People who are overweight also tend to develop sleep apnea, a condition where your breathing is disrupted while you are sleeping, and this again increases your blood pressure.
4- Too much alcohol also increases your blood pressure Alcohol should be consumed in moderation. The moment it crosses the limit of moderation alcohol starts having a bad effect on your overall health, including your blood pressure levels. If you have high blood pressure, and you drink alcohol beyond moderate limits, then it not only increases your blood pressure values, it can also decrease the effect of your medications.
The question that now arises is what is the moderate limit when we talk of alcohol? One drink in 24 hours for women, and one drink for men who are above the age of 65 years is considered moderate drinking. While for men under 65 , two drinks in a day is considered as moderate drinking. Any amount of drinking beyond these limits would certainly increase your blood pressure levels.
5- Reduce your salt intake – As per The American Heart Association, your salt intake should be less than 1, 500 milligrams every day if you have hypertension. People who have high intake of salt are more at risk of developing, as well as aggravating their hypertensive condition. If you reduce your salt intake, your blood pressure values can come down by 2 – 8 mmHg, a significant number when we talk of high blood pressure.
You can drastically cut down on your salt intake if you start preparing food at home. Use spices in your home cooked food for flavor, rather than adding salt. Also, packaged foods, processed foods, and dining out typically accounts for 75% of the salt that you consume, hence avoid these things to keep your blood pressure under control. If you are unable to reduce your salt intake immediately, then do it gradually, but bring down your sodium intake to lower your blood pressure and other related risk factors.
6- This is a no brainer, you just can’t smoke, quit it – Cigarette smoking increases your blood pressure, and you just cannot carry on smoking if you have hypertension. Every time you smoke a cigarette, it increases your blood pressure for several minutes. When you quit smoking, it brings back your blood pressure within normal limits.
7- Last but not the least, learn to manage your stress – This is a big one, and you need to learn and control your stress levels. Remaining constantly under stress increases your blood pressure significantly. Even occasional stress increases your blood pressure if you start eating unhealthy food, take to drinking, or turn to smoking. Sit down and rationally ask yourself what causes your stress levels to rise. Is it family, finances, work, friends, or relationships that is fueling your stress? Once you pinpoint the reason, try and eliminate the cause, or at least bring it to a minimum level so that it remains under your control. Becoming a realist helps you in managing your stress levels to a great extent. Don’t try to aim for things that are not under your control. Also, learn to let go, and try to find happiness in things that are small. Talk to people who you think would listen to you and understand you, sharing actually helps overcome stress.
Most importantly, whether you are pre-hypertensive, or you have high blood pressure, you need to consult a good medical practitioner who can guide you on all these fronts, and be with you when you need him, or her the most. Contact MultiCARE Physicians, where doctors treat their patients with compassion and care.
If you are based in and around Lake Mary, Florida, visit MultiCARE Physicians for effective management of your hypertension.
Doctors here at MultiCARE Physicians provide holistic treatment and give you sufficient time, so that you can clarify all your doubts.