High blood pressure (HBP) or Hypertension is a very common health condition in the US. Speaking in numbers, one in every three US citizens suffer from the problem of high blood pressure. Its commonality makes it even more important for people to know how to deal with it effectively. And that’s what we are going to focus on today.
High blood pressure can be a silent killer if not checked on time. So it’s important that you do not miss your regular health checkups. If in case you feel that your body is showing the symptoms of high blood pressure, get in touch with a professional. If you are not comfortable leaving your house or have a situation that leaves you immobile, you can also talk to a doctor online.
In addition to getting professional help, you also need to take steps on your own. Tweak your habits a bit and adjust your lifestyle according to your health condition. Here are a few simple and easy lifestyle changes that you can start with.
Shift To A Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is the first step of every healthy lifestyle. After all, you are what you eat. But a healthy diet is not just an addition of healthy food on your plate but also the quitting of unhealthy food options. Let’s take a look at a few diet changes that can help manage your HBP.
Lower your sodium intake. Even your doctor would start his treatment by advising you to keep a check on your salt intake. That’s because sodium leads to higher amounts of water retention. It causes extra strain on blood vessels and the inability of kidneys to remove the excess fluids. As a result, your blood pressure rises. To counter this, you have to stay below 2300 mg sodium per day. And that means goodbye to processed foods and salt in your food. Use healthier alternatives like cayenne, basil and other herbs instead.
Along with salt, sugar is also a major culprit for HBP. In fact, some studies suggest that a high sugar diet may be the main reason behind Hypertension. If a HBP patient does not keep a check on their sugar intake, the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease increases. So not only should your diet be low in salt but also sugar.
Replace these two culprits with healthier components like magnesium and potassium. Each of these minerals can help lower the effects of sodium and maintain healthy blood pressure.
When suffering from high blood pressure, it is important that you get the optimum physical activity of 150 minutes per week. Inactivity is one of the many contributors of hypertension. So keeping your body active on a consistent basis is important.
Try aerobic activities like light jogging, swimming, walking etc. or practice calming activities like yoga, meditation and deep breathing. These activities will get your heart pumping and lower the blood pressure significantly.
Try to follow a routine that allows you to have some sort of physical activity throughout the day. Because consistency is key here. Get lazy and your blood pressure may spike up again.
Physical activity is even more important for obese people suffering from high blood pressure. Shedding a few pounds can bring positive results immediately. You can reduce 5-20 points of the systolic pressure with every 20 pounds. So put on your sports shoes and get moving.
Learn To Manage Stress
Stress can increase your blood pressure temporarily. The hormones produced when a body is under stress narrow the blood vessels and increase the heartbeat resulting in HBP. The effect is not long term but continuous exposure to stress can cause serious damage. So you must learn how to face and manage stressful situations effectively.
Take the present situation of COVID-19 for instance. Not only does it create worries about the health of our loved ones but also about jobs and finances. It can become overwhelming and stressful. But you can deal with it by focusing on the positive aspects like spending time with friends and family. Distract yourself with calming activities and avoid trigger situations as much as possible. The biggest trigger right now would be social media and news channels. Lower your intake of both and divert your attention to situations that provide relaxation and give you a sense of control.
Also, exempt from resorting to stress drinking or eating. It will neither help with the stress nor your high blood pressure.
Limit Your Alcohol and Nicotine Intake
When changing your lifestyle habits, you must remove two harmful aspects – smoking and alcohol. Neither of them is going to help relieve high blood pressure.
Alcohol is best when consumed in moderation. So we are talking about one glass of wine only. Go beyond the limit and your blood pressure will suffer. While moderate drinking can provide health benefits, raising the amount will lead to an unhealthy increase in BP. In the case of regular consumers, the rise in blood pressure can be long term.
Smoking on the other hand is beneficial in no way or form. With every puff, your blood pressure rises and stays at an elevated level even after the session ends. The same effect can happen with second-hand smoke as well. For a patient of hypertension, this can be a dangerous situation.
Both alcohol and smoking can increase risks of cardiovascular problems like heart attack and stroke. So limit your intake as much as possible.
Keep a Blood Pressure Journal
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is best to get yourself a home BP monitor. Contact your physician to know which monitor will suit you best and the working of the machine. He or she will also acquaint you with how to take a reading and the possibilities of false readings. The home BP machine will help you get a better idea of your numbers and if they are in a healthy range or not. While keeping a regular check, maintain a journal to track your numbers. It will let you know if the treatment or lifestyle changes are working or not.
In case you feel that the numbers aren’t right or there are no positive results, contact your doctor without delay. It’s always best to keep your doctor updated on every progress or failure in the treatment.
These lifestyle changes are very simple and easy to adopt. So gather your determination and perseverance and start working towards a healthy life.