High blood pressure, or hypertension, is nothing to mess around with. It can lead to a stroke, kidney failure, an aneurysm, or a heart attack. Your family doctor will almost certainly put you on a medication to get it under control, but there are things you can do to help lower it, too. Sometime people can even get off the medication altogether if they make the right lifestyle changes. Here are six changes you can consider making, but be sure to continue your prescription medication and keep your family practitioner in the loop.
Shed Excess Weight
If you're overweight, your organs must work harder. In a recent study, even a nominal weight loss of just nine pounds showed a reduction in both the systolic and diastolic values.
Change Your Diet
Adjusting your diet will not only help you lose weight, it will help you naturally lower your blood pressure. Many Americans eat a diet high in red meats and processed foods high in sodium. Aim for more whole grains, fish, vegetables, and heart-healthy fats like olive oil. Use fresh herbs and spices to add flavor rather than salt. Add more potassium-rich foods like bananas, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Potassium can counteract the effects of sodium on blood pressure.
A brisk 30-minute walk five times a week can also reduce your blood pressure. Jogging, bicycling, and swimming are other good options. Ask your doctor what he feels is the best exercise regimen for you based on your current capabilities.
Moderate Your Alcohol Usage
A small amount of alcohol can be good for your hypertension. But if you are having more than one or two drinks a day, your blood pressure can go up. Alcohol can also interfere with your blood pressure medication.
Everyone knows smoking is not good for you. It negatively affects every system in the body. Ask your doctor for resources such as local support groups, and if you find you still can't quit, discuss a prescription to help you.
Chronic stress can exacerbate hypertension. Exercise can be useful for stress reduction. Meditation and prayer can also help. Analyze your life to pinpoint what situations are stressful to you, and then do what you can to either remove yourself from those situations or adjust your expectations. It may simply be a matter of choosing not to sweat the small stuff. A healthy and optimistic outlook can go a long way in stress reduction.
Speak with doctors at a family practice near you to learn about these and other ways to lower your blood pressure.