Hypertension can lead to a host of dangerous health issues, so here are some helpful suggestions to take to heart.
- Consuming less sodium can help manage hypertension
- Exercise and rest are two other effective practices
- Healthier food and a more active lifestyle should be combined with regular medical attention
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is one of the world’s biggest killers because it increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart attack. Sometimes, it can have obvious symptoms such as severe headaches, nosebleeds, and vision problems. But often, it can go completely undetected for years unless discovered by a medical professional.
CDC data reveals that almost half of U.S. adults have hypertension, but only about a quarter of them have it under control. You can refer to this CDC fact sheet to quickly check if your blood pressure numbers are cause for concern. Your age, lifestyle, and race can all put you at greater risk of hypertension – even if you’re feeling fine.
Don’t let high blood pressure get you down. There are plenty of positive steps you can take to lower those numbers and regain your good health. Check out our five simple steps for preventing and managing hypertension below, and remember to consult with your doctor before implementing any health-oriented lifestyle changes.
1. Manage your bodyweight
Unwanted weight gain can lead to or exacerbate hypertension. It’s influenced by several factors, one of which is too much sodium in the diet. Studies have linked excess sodium to weight gain and demonstrated how processed foods and snacks (massive contributors to daily dietary sodium) are a common and harmful habit among those who gain weight.
A sedentary lifestyle and depression are two other common causes of weight gain, both of which can be mitigated by regular, low-impact exercise. This can raise endorphins that boost mood, strengthen the cardiovascular system, and increase socialization.
A good first step is knowing your body mass index (BMI). This can help you and your doctor create a safe and productive exercise plan that may involve brisk walks, cycling, or swimming.
2. Revitalize your diet
Making smarter food choices is another big help with bodyweight management, but the benefits don’t stop there. Healthier foods can mean a healthier heart and clearer arteries, which can significantly relieve cardiovascular stress and help prevent and manage hypertension.
Eliminating processed, prepared, and pre-packaged foods as much as possible from your diet is a great place to start. You can also prioritize fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and certain kinds of meat along with a supplement containing vitamins B, C, and D, all of which have been associated with lower blood pressure.
The DASH diet is a runaway hit with doctors and patients alike for its rich and diverse options that can make managing hypertension tasty, and the ketogenic diet is no slouch when it comes to savory snacks. We know it’s hard to break a love of sodium-heavy foods, but your blood pressure and body will thank you for it!
3. Kick your other bad habits
Around 38 million adults in America drink alcohol excessively, and only 1 in 6 take healthy steps to address it. The number of Americans who smoke has decreased dramatically over the decades, but many still include tobacco products as part of their lifestyle. If you fall under one of those two categories, it can affect your blood pressure.
What’s the connection to hypertension? Alcohol causes water retention and constricts blood vessels by elevating renin levels. Smoking has been connected to malignant hypertension and acute increases in heart rate and blood pressure. And both excess drinking and smoking can cause the heart to work harder to pump the same amount of blood.
The takeaway: Think twice before indulging in that next drink or cigarette, and work with your doctor to investigate methods of gradually reducing or eliminating them from your life.
4. Soothe your stress and anxiety
Stress management is a vital step for holistic health and one of the most essential tools for managing hypertension. Stress causes increased heart rate, narrowing of the blood vessels, and a flood of adrenaline and cortisol.
There’s no firm evidence that stress causes long-term hypertension. Still, its near-constant presence in modern life can prompt short-term blood pressure spikes multiple times per day – especially for those living with clinical anxiety. Here are some effective ways to ease worry and decrease panic responses:
- Review your work and personal schedule and rearrange activities by priority to tackle them one at a time.
- Try some expert-approved breathing exercises.
- Consider a magnesium and/or zinc supplement.
- Review current medical prescriptions for possible harmful side effects and speak to your doctor about trying anxiety meds.
There’s one more thing that can help reduce anxiety and stress, and it’s also another key to managing hypertension:
5. Get all the sleep you need
Sleep renews the body and mind. Lack of sleep can lead to elevated physical, mental, and emotional stress and leave us exhausted. An exhausted person can’t exercise and thus becomes sedentary. A worn-out mind loses focus and perspective, leading to reduced personal and professional performance and greater anxiety as a result.
Blood pressure decreases when you’re asleep, so it’s no surprise that sleep deprivation has been linked to hypertension. This makes getting the recommended amount of sleep for your age group very important, but it’s not always easy to get there.
If you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, there are a few simple tricks you can try. Exercising can help recharge us during the day and make us tired at bedtime. Limiting evening exposure to blue light from electronic devices is another effective way to encourage sound sleep. Try turning those laptops and phones off about an hour before bed. And finally, make your bedroom a cool, dark place that promotes sleep, and try sticking to a regular schedule of going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning.
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