Hypertension or high blood pressure is known as the silent killer. Hypertension is defined as a systolic reading above 140 or a diastolic reading above 90 (use a blood pressure chart). Many people who have numbers above these ranges have been able to lower them significantly with lifestyle changes. In many cases they are able to avoid taking medication for the condition. The following six lifestyle changes can help anyone battling hypertension.
Losing as little as ten pounds can reduce the readings at the doctor’s office. In general, the more weight a person loses the lower the readings will be. If you must take medication, losing weight also makes them more effective at reaching your goals.
Thirty minutes to an hour of exercise on most days of one’s week can help to lower pressures by 4-9 mm HG. This change can often be seen within a few weeks. Persons that are diagnosed with prehypertension can use exercise to keep the pressures down to a safer level and often prevent full-blown hypertension from developing.
Diets that are rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy products can make a big difference in those pressures. People that follow the DASH diet can lower the numbers by as much as 14 mm HG. When following a healthy eating plan, patients should realize an occasional treat is allowable and when used in moderation can help to lower the numbers as well as the stress of a diet.
By lowering the amount of sodium, primarily through eliminating table salt, it is possible to lower the readings by another 2 to 8 mm Hg. Everyone should limit sodium to 2300 mg or less daily. Anyone over age 51 as well as those of African American descent and those with hypertension or chronic kidney disease need to lower their consumption to less than 1500 mg daily. Reaching these goals is easier if the person cuts back gradually.
Alcohol can have both positive and negative benefits on one’s health. Small amounts may actually lower hypertension, but those who consume too much alcohol can make the condition worse. The recommended amount is one drink for women and a maximum of two for men daily. In addition, it is not recommended that those who do not currently drink start to lower hypertension as alcohol offers more potential for harm than for good.
When fighting hypertension, it is important to avoid tobacco products of all types. In addition, avoid secondhand smoke. Nicotine in tobacco products can raise the pressures by up to 10 mm HG. Once elevated by nicotine, the pressures may remain elevated for four hours after smoking. Just six cigarettes daily will keep the pressure high for the entire day. Even second hand smoke can negatively affect your attempts to lower hypertension.
Hypertension is a deadly disease. It may lead to heart attack or stroke. While lifestyle changes may lower hypertension, it is important that patients never stop taking medication for hypertension without first speaking with their doctor. Even if a doctor wants the patient to continue taking blood pressure medication for the condition, the lifestyle changes made will result in significant improvements in the health.