Monitor and Control Your Blood Pressure
Once you know you have high blood pressure, you have the ability—and the motivation—to take control of your health and improve your numbers.
Did you know high blood does not only affect people over the age of 50? Studies show that as many as one in three American adults currently have some level of high blood pressure. And while many of us might dismiss our numbers as “nothing to worry about” because our numbers are only “borderline” high, the reality is high blood pressure at any level can cause serious health problems.
Dangers of high blood pressure
High blood pressure can seriously damage important organs like your heart, kidneys and brain. It hardens your arteries, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and brain, possibly resulting in stroke, heart attacks or heart disease. In addition, adults with diabetes and high blood pressure have a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
Take steps to improve your blood pressure
Making changes to your lifestyle may help you control your blood pressure, lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and may help you lose weight. By controlling your blood pressure now, you reduce the risks for the harmful effects later in life.
The following lifestyle changes can help you control your blood pressure:
- Prioritize a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, but low in sodium, fats and cholesterol, can greatly help reduce your blood pressure. Try eating fewer foods high in carbohydrates or LDL cholesterol, such as fatty beefs, breads, cookies, pizza and cured meats. Instead, target foods high in protein and fiber, like fruits, vegetables, beans, oats, quinoa and lean, skinless meats like chicken or turkey breasts, pork tenderloin and beef sirloin.
- Make an active lifestyle a habit. Exercising for 30 minutes a day, five days a week helps you lose weight and improves your blood flow. Additionally, exercising regularly reduces stress and tension, helping your heart rate and blood pressure numbers drop.
- Target your healthy weight range. Being overweight or obese is very often directly connected to high blood pressure. As your weight drops to a healthy range, your blood pressure number will typically do the same. Talk with your physician to determine what is a healthy weight range using your body mass index (BMI). You can get a rough estimate of your BMI and what your target range should be, by using your weight and height with the CDC’s Assessing Your Weight website.
- Avoid smoking. If you smoke, it’s worth it for you and those you love to leave your habit behind! Make quitting personal. Nail down why you want to quit—is it to better your health? To protect your family and friends from secondhand smoke? When you feel a craving, think about your reason for wanting to quit and use it as motivation.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol raises your heart rate, blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels. So how many drinks are too many? This is based on gender, however it’s healthiest to avoid alcohol. If you do drink, limit your intake to no more than two drinks per day for men, or one for women. If you drink significantly more than these levels regularly, quitting may help you greatly improve your blood pressure, your weight and your kidney health. If you have problems reducing your drinking, consider talking to your doctor for alcoholic assistance or reaching out to your local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group.
Choosing a healthier lifestyle can keep your blood pressure in a healthy range, and lower your risks of heart disease, stroke and chronic kidney problems. So, take control of your health and enjoy living your healthiest version of you!
*This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.