Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition that can put you at the risk of stroke and heart disease. It’s one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half a million deaths in the United States, during the year 2017, had hypertension either as a primary or contributing cause. The World Health Organization regards high blood pressure as a global public health concern because it affects more than 1 billion people worldwide and is also a major cause of premature death.
What makes hypertension even more dangerous is that more often than not, it doesn’t cause any symptoms unless it reaches a very high level. This is why it is often termed as the ‘silent killer.’
How Is Hypertension Treated?
Unfortunately, hypertension has no cure, as of yet. However, it can easily be managed with medications. As with most other medications, the long-term use of high blood pressure medicines can have a range of negative effects, which is why a large number of people are increasingly opting for lifestyle modifications for hypertension management.
Can Lifestyle Modifications Help Manage High Blood Pressure?
Fortunately, yes! Lifestyle plays a major role in blood pressure management. A healthy lifestyle helps prevent your blood pressure from elevating and reduce, delay, and even eliminate the need for taking medicines.
7 Simple Lifestyle Changes to Manage High Blood Pressure
The American Heart Association recommends the following lifestyle changes to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range. They may seem too simple to be effective; however, both healthcare practitioners and hypertension patients swear by their effectiveness and benefits.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excessive weight not only elevates your blood pressure level but can also cause sleep apnea, which then further increases your blood pressure. If you’re overweight, losing a few pounds can significantly improve your blood pressure. You can get an idea of weight loss’s effectiveness by the fact a person’s blood pressure level drops by 1 mm HG with every kilogram of weight they lose.
2. Stay Active
Regular physical activity can help hypertensive people reduce their blood pressure level by 5 to 8 mm HG. However, the key to keeping it under control is to be consistent with your physical activity. If you return to a sedentary lifestyle, your blood pressure is likely to rise again. On average, it is recommended that people with high blood pressure should do at least 90 to 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
3. Develop Healthy Eating Habits
Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole foods, and low-fat dairy in your diet and limit your intake of processed and fatty foods, particularly the ones containing saturated foods. Eliminating cholesterol and saturated fats from your diet can help hypertensive patients reduce blood pressure by as much as 11 mm Hg.
4. Reduce Sodium Intake
This is a no-brainer. Reducing your sodium intake can have a significant impact on your blood pressure and can also help improve heart health. American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium to under 1,500 mg in a day.
5. Consume Potassium-Rich Foods
Potassium is known to help reduce the negative effects of sodium on blood pressure. However, instead of taking potassium supplements, try to maintain your potassium supply from natural sources.
Important – Talk to your doctor so they can determine the right potassium level for you.
6. Quit Smoking
Smoking keeps your blood pressure elevated for several minutes even after you are done. The more you smoke, the longer your blood pressure will remain high.
Stopping smoking has long been known to help bring blood pressure down to a normal level. It also reduces the risk of heart disease.
7. Limit Alcohol
Consuming alcohol in a limited quantity may help lower your blood pressure, but drinking too much can have adverse effects both on your blood pressure and overall health. In general, men are advised not to drink more than two glasses of alcohol in a day, whereas women should keep it to one glass per day.
Work With Your Doctor to Keep Your Blood Pressure Within a Healthy Range!
While these tips are highly effective for hypertension management, it is essential to work with your doctor to keep your blood pressure and overall health in check. The doctor will help you devise a comprehensive plan for high blood pressure management and will also continue to adjust it with time as per your health.