Five tips for controlling your blood pressure
Do you have high blood pressure? Getting your blood pressure under control can help add years to your life while adopting new, healthy lifestyle habits.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the artery walls. The force is created with each heartbeat as blood is pumped through the arteries. Arteries carry blood from the heart to other organs, explains Dr. Russell Pacquette, primary care physician at St. Joseph’s/Candler Primary Care on Eisenhower.
Generally speaking, a normal blood pressure range is when the systolic pressure (top number) is below 120 and the diastolic pressure (bottom number) is below 80. When these numbers are higher than those thresholds, blood pressure is considered to be elevated (120-129 and less than 80) to higher (anything greater than 130 and 80).
If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to stroke, damaged arteries, kidney damage and even vision loss. Age, smoking, diabetes and excessive alcohol use can lead to higher blood pressure.
“The good news is that high blood pressure can be controlled and even reversed,” Dr. Pacquette says.
Here are five tips that you can start doing today to help lower your blood pressure:
- Increase exercise
Current exercise guidelines suggest a minimum of 150 minutes of vigorous activity a week, which is the equivalent of 30 minutes, five days a week. People who participate in physical activity on a regular basis may be able to reduce the amount of hypertension medication they are taking. If you are completely sedentary, start with 10 minutes of physical activity and slowly build your way up to 30 minutes. Even a little bit of exercise is better than none. Always be sure to consult your physician before starting an exercise program.
- Eat more bananas
Did you know that bananas can help regulate your blood pressure? Many people are aware that sodium can raise blood pressure; however, potassium counteracts sodium’s negative impact on your heart. Bananas, baked potatoes with skin, orange juice and low-fat yogurt are all considered good sources of potassium. Adults should aim for 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day. That’s not an excuse to go crazy with salt. Adults should not have more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium a day.
- Lose weight
Research has shown that weight loss can directly impact your blood pressure. Carrying around excess weight makes your heart work harder than necessary. A lower body weight reduces tension on the heart, which can help lower your blood pressure.
- Reduce alcohol intake
While a few glasses of red wine during the week may contribute to your heart health, moderation matters with alcohol intake. One drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men is typically the guideline for promoting heart health. Beyond those numbers, excess drinking can negatively impact the heart, including increasing your blood pressure.
- Reduce stress
While sometimes easier said than done, reducing stress can help get your blood pressure under control. Too much stress can cause elevated blood pressure and put tension on the heart. If you are prone to stress, take steps to reduce stress-causing activities if at all possible. Incorporating exercise and meditation are two ways to reduce stress. Some people relieve stress by journaling or talking with a friend. However you choose to relieve stress, doing so can have a direct impact on your blood pressure.
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, these five tips can help get your numbers down to a healthy range. Taking control of your heart’s health, while adopting a healthy lifestyle, has positive benefits for everyone.