Modifying your lifestyle plays a key role in lowering high blood pressure, which is a serious health concern. Roughly 75 million Americans have high blood pressure, and many more have numbers that are higher than normal but not classified as high blood pressure.
Despite the health consequences of having high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, only about half of those with the condition manage it effectively. Find out how you can take control and lower your blood pressure — not just cutting down on salt, but making smart lifestyle choices — and why doing so is crucial for your heart health.
The importance of controlling blood pressure
When your heart beats, it pumps blood throughout your body so your organs and tissues receive oxygen and nutrients. Each time your heart beats and in between beats, the blood pushes against your blood vessels. Normally, blood vessels are soft and flexible, and the pressure against them remains within a safe range.
When you have high blood pressure, the force pushing against the blood vessels is too high. This can lead to a heart attack or a stroke, making it vital to get your blood pressure under control. Here’s how.
People who are overweight or obese are more likely to have high blood pressure. As weight increases, blood pressure increases. If you’re overweight and have high blood pressure, losing as few as 10 pounds can have a significant impact on lowering blood pressure.
Talk to your doctor to determine your target weight. You can work together to create a plan and set goals to bring your weight within a normal range.
If you’re a couch potato, there’s good reason to get up and move. Physical activity keeps you healthy in various ways, including helping to control hypertension. Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger, and a strong heart pumps blood with less effort, lowering the force against your arteries.
Exercise lowers blood pressure over the long term and also immediately following physical activity. For example, 30 minutes of cycling lowers blood pressure for the entire day. Getting moving is the most important aspect.
If you’re not used to exercising, it’s a good idea to start with low-impact exercise, such as walking. Ideally, you should work your way up to at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
Adopt a heart-healthy diet
Making changes to your diet is one of the most effective ways to manage blood pressure. Sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars have a negative impact on blood pressure and heart health in general. A heart-healthy diet includes:
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy
- Lean meats
- Beans and legumes
- Unsaturated fats
Additionally, an eating plan geared toward heart health limits
- Red meat
- Saturated fats
- Added sugar
- Processed food
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet emphasizes this type of heart-healthy eating pattern and is proven effective at lowering blood pressure.
Moderate alcohol intake
Drinking too much alcohol raises your blood pressure, so avoid drinking in excess. A moderate alcohol intake is no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.
Making changes in your daily life is the first step toward achieving and maintaining a healthy blood pressure. For some people, lifestyle changes aren’t enough to control blood pressure. In those cases, medications are available to bring blood pressure within a healthy range.
Working with a cardiologist is one of the best ways to take care of your heart health. For effective blood pressure management and cardiac care, call Phoenix Heart to schedule an appointment or book your request online. We have offices throughout Maricopa County, Arizona.