Smart Tips To Control Hypertension
High blood pressure (BP), or hypertension, is common in the US. However, many people aren’t aware the condition can be dangerous or lead to a domino effect of health problems throughout the body. Left uncontrolled, hypertension can damage the arteries, heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. For many people, hypertension also presents with other diseases like diabetes. Along with medication, incorporating better lifestyle habits is critical for better health outcomes.
Know the numbers
For people just beginning to manage hypertension, consider checking blood pressure levels twice a day. Test before eating or taking any medicines in the morning, then take another reading in the evening. Individuals with controlled hypertension may be able to test once daily or less, depending on physician recommendations. Along with routine BP testing, the following tips can help lower numbers.
Go easy on the salt
Most people would agree that salt can make foods more appealing. However, as the saying goes, too much of a good thing is bad. Research shows that most Americans eat too much salt every day. Dietary guidelines recommend eating 2,300mg or less, whereas evidence shows most people consume closer to 3,400mg each day. Cut back on sodium by picking low or salt-free alternatives for foods and seasonings. Opt for herbs or spices rather than salt to flavor foods. Likewise, skip processed and packaged foods that are usually loaded with sodium.
Break a sweat
Carrying too much weight can be an underlying risk for hypertension. Regular physical activity like jogging or swimming is a great way to lower blood pressure levels. Recent studies have found that when overweight people participated in weight loss diets, the risk for hypertension decreased, even with losing just 5-10lbs total.
Skip the vices
Smoking and drinking too much alcohol have long been linked to health risks, including hypertension. For individuals who smoke, stopping tobacco use can help to lessen the negative effects. Cigarettes can harden blood vessel walls leading to the development of high blood pressure. Drinking too many alcoholic beverages can also increase the risk of hypertension, and people worried about high BP should quit or reduce intake if possible.
Make better food choices
Along with cutting back on salt, taking a holistic dietary approach is important. Consider adding potassium-rich foods to curb how salt influences the body. Likewise, reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake also lowers blood pressure and the risk of developing diabetes. For a sweet treat, consider dark chocolate made of at least 60-70% cacao. The confection can lower the risk of heart disease and inflammation. For flavor, add garlic to lower blood pressure.
Take control of blood pressure
Currently, no cure exists for hypertension. However, taking control of the disease through achievable lifestyle changes can aid in minimizing the damage the condition can do to the body. Some individuals may need to also leverage medical interventions like medications. People concerned about hypertension should speak with a physician to understand how the condition impacts the body and what can be done to blunt the effects. Also, think about talking with a registered dietician (RD) to develop a healthier meal plan.