Eat a Healthy Diet
Talk with your health care team about eating a variety of foods rich in potassium, fiber, and protein and lower in salt (sodium) and saturated fat. For many people, making these healthy changes can help keep blood pressure low and protect against heart disease and stroke.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as a “silent” condition because of its notorious lack of symptoms. Still, it affects nearly half of all adults in the United States and only a quarter of them have the condition under control.
Here at Westmed Family Healthcare in Westminster, Colorado, board-certified physicians Clifton Etienne, MD, Michael Cavanagh, MD, and Flora Brewington, MD identify high blood pressure and work with you to protect your health and regulate your condition with effective treatments.
Although some people with high blood pressure require medication to control the condition, making simple modifications to your lifestyle is a preferable and often less risky route to take.
Find out how you can manage your blood pressure with minimal or no medication by making lifestyle changes like these:
Watch what you eat
Even secondary hypertension, which comes from underlying conditions like thyroid disorders and kidney issues, can benefit from a few dietary changes and watching what you consume recreationally. There are many foods and substances that increase blood pressure or keep it high, including:
Even a minor reduction in the amount of salt you eat can lower your blood pressure by a few points and improve your overall cardiovascular health. You should read the labels on your food to check the sodium content, avoid adding salt to already-salty foods, and avoid processed foods when possible.
Chronic alcohol abuse is a condition that can cause secondary hypertension. However, even if your hypertension doesn’t stem directly from a drinking habit, limiting your alcohol consumption can lower your blood pressure and make blood pressure medications more effective.
Fat in your diet, especially saturated fat, raises your blood pressure or prevents it from lowering. In fact, consuming saturated fat raises both your cholesterol and
your blood pressure. Foods like red meat, butter, cheese, and baked goods all tend to be high in saturated fat, and finding healthier alternatives can be a crucial step in hypertension management.
Limiting the “bad” foods is important for managing blood pressure, but centering healthy options in your diet is equally beneficial. You should build your diet around fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products to bring your blood pressure down to more manageable levels.
Smoking is a difficult habit to kick, but every cigarette raises your blood pressure for some time after you smoke it. If you tend to smoke cigarettes one after another, your blood pressure is elevated for the majority of your day.
When you take a long break from smoking, your blood pressure has the chance to return to a lower baseline level. If you stop smoking permanently, your cardiovascular health improves.
Make exercise a priority
Exercise doesn’t have to be the hardest part of your day, or even an inconvenience. You can start within your comfort level and work your way up to longer or more strenuous workouts as time goes on. Exercising for about 150 minutes per week lowers your blood pressure and keeps it low as long as you stay consistent with your routine.
Aerobic exercises, like running or biking, work very well to help lower blood pressure. Plus, these exercises can help reduce stress, which is also a major contributing factor in hypertension.
A high blood pressure reading might come as a shock, but you’re far from helpless in the situation. For more help with hypertension-friendly lifestyle modifications and treatments, schedule an appointment with our team at Westmed Family Healthcare today.