By applying these 10 lifestyle changes, blood pressure can be lowered and risk of heart disease can be reduced.
If diagnosed with high blood pressure, to bring the numbers down by having medications can be worrying
Lifestyle plays a vital role in high blood pressure treatment. If blood pressure is controlled successfully with a healthy lifestyle, the need of medication might be avoided, delayed or reduced
Below are 10 lifestyle changes which can help to lower the blood pressure and keep it down.
1. Extra pounds to be lost and waistline monitored
As weight increases blood pressure also increases often. Disrupted breathing can be caused due to overweight while sleeping (sleep apnea), which further raises the blood pressure.
One of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure is weight loss. If overweight or obese, then losing even a small amount of weight can help reduce blood pressure. In general, blood pressure may be decreased by about 1 millimeter of mercury (mm Hg) with each kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of weight to be lost.
Apart from shedding pounds, an eye should be kept on the waistline. Carrying too much weight around the waist can put high blood pressure at great risk.
- If the waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters) then men are at risk.
- If the waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (89 centimeters) then women are at risk.
Among different ethnic groups these numbers may vary. Doctor should be consulted to ask about a healthy waist measurement.
2. Exercise regularly
If having high blood pressure then regular physical activity can lower the blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg. Regular physical activity such as 150 minutes a week, or about 30 minutes most days of the week. It’s necessary to be consistent because if exercising is stopped, blood pressure can rise again.
If having elevated blood pressure, then exercise can help to avoid developing hypertension. If having hypertension already, regular physical activity can bring the blood pressure down to safer levels.
Aerobic exercise may be tried to lower blood pressure. Some examples of aerobic exercise may include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. High-intensity interval training can also be tried, which involves alternating short bursts of intense activity with subsequent recovery periods of lighter activity. Strength training also can help decrease blood pressure. Try and aim to include strength training exercises at least two days a week. To develop an exercise program, consult the doctor.
3. Eating a healthy diet
the blood pressure can be lowered by up to 11 mm Hg by eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol if having high blood pressure. This eating plan is called as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
Changing the eating habits is not easy, but with these tips, a healthy diet can be adopted:
- Keeping a food diary and writing down what is being eat, even for just a week, can shed surprising light on true eating habits. Eating what, how much, when and why should be monitored .
- Boosting potassium should be considered as it can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Rather then supplements the best source of potassium is food, such as fruits and vegetables. The potassium level that’s best should be consulted with the doctor.
- Read food labels should be read when shopping and healthy-eating plan should be stick to when dining out, too.
4. Reduction of sodium in diet
Even a small decrease in the sodium in diet can improve health of the heart and reduce blood pressure by about 5 to 6 mm Hg if having high blood pressure.
Among groups of people the effect of sodium intake on blood pressure can vary. In general, sodium should be limited to 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less. However, it is ideal for most adults to have a lower sodium intake that is 1,500 mg a day or less.
Consider the following tips to reduces the sodium in diet:
- If possible, read the food labels and choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages which are normally bought.
- Eat fewer processed foods. Eating fewer processed foods where a only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods, so fewer processed foods should be eaten. During processing, most sodium is added
- Just 1 level teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your food.
- If sodium in diet can not be drastically reduced suddenly, cut back gradually. The palate will adjust over time.
5. Limit the amount of alcohol
Alcohol for health can be both good and bad. Drinking alcohol only in moderation i.e. generally one drink a day for women, or two a day for men can potentially lower the blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg. One drink is equaled to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
If drinking too much alcohol then the protective effect will be lost.
Blood pressure can actually rise by several points if drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol. It can also decrease the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
6. Quit smoking
Each cigarette which is smoked increases the blood pressure for many minutes after finishing. Quitting smoking helps the blood pressure return to normal. Quitting smoking can decrease the risk of heart disease and improve overall health. People tend to live longer who quit smoking compared to people who never quit smoking.
7. Cutting back on caffeine
The role of caffeine in blood pressure is still debatable. People who rarely consume caffeine can raise blood pressure up to 10 mm Hg. But people drinking coffee regularly may experience little or no effect on their blood pressure.
Although the long-term effects of caffeine are not clear on blood pressure, it’s possible blood pressure may slightly increase.
To check if caffeine raises the blood pressure, pressure should be checked within 30 minutes of drinking a caffeinated beverage. If the blood pressure increases by 5 to 10 mm Hg, the candidate may be sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine. The doctor should be consulted about the effects of caffeine on the blood pressure.
8. Reducing stress
High blood pressure can be a cause of chronic stress. To determine the effects of chronic stress on blood pressure more research is required. Occasional stress can also be a contributor to high blood pressure if the reaction to stress is by eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol or smoking.
Some time should be taken to think about the causes of feeling stressed, such as work, family, finances or illness. Once the cause of stress is known, consider to eliminate or reduce stress.
If stress can not be eliminated then a healthier way to cope with stress should be considered. Try to:
- Changing expectations. For example, planning the day and focusing on the priorities. Avoiding in trying to do too much and learning to say no. Understanding that there are some things that can’t be changed or controlled, but focus can be made on how to react to them.
- Focusing on issues that can control and making plans to solve them. If issues are faced at work then talk to the manager. If there is any conflict with the kids or spouse, take steps to resolve it.
- Avoiding stress triggers. Trying to avoid triggers when possible. For example, if there is rush-hour traffic on the way to work can cause stress, try to leave earlier in the morning, or take public transportation. Avoid people who cause stress if possible.
- Time should be made to relax and to do activities. Take out time each day to sit quietly and breathe deeply. Make time for activities which are enjoyed or hobbies in the schedule, such as taking a walk, cooking or volunteering.
- Practice gratitude. Expressing gratitude to others can help in reducing stress.
9. Monitoring blood pressure at home and see the doctor regularly
Home monitoring blood pressure can help keep tabs and makes it certain that lifestyle changes are working, and alerts the doctor also to any potential health complications. Without any prescription blood pressure monitors are available widely. Talk to the doctor about home monitoring before getting started.
Regular visits to t he doctor are also key for controlling the blood pressure. If the blood pressure is well-controlled, check with the doctor about how often the blood pressure needs to be checked. Checking the blood pressure daily or less often may be suggested by the doctor. If changed are made in the medications or other treatments, checking the blood pressure starting two weeks after treatment changes and a week before the next appointment may be recommended by the doctor.
10. Getting support
Health can also be improved by having supportive family and friends. They may encourage to take care of yourself, drive to the doctor’s office or embark on an exercise program with you for keeping the blood pressure low.
If support is needed beyond family and friends, consider joining a support group. This may put you in touch with people who can give an emotional boost or morale boost and who can offer practical tips to cope with the condition.