What You Can Do to Control Your Blood Pressure
Lifestyle changes play an important role in managing high blood pressure. Although permanent changes in lifestyle and diet are sometimes difficult to achieve, they may eliminate the need for drug treatment or allow reductions in the dosages of medications Lifestyle changes carry other benefits, as well. They can keep high blood pressure from developing in the first place, reduce other cardiovascular risk factors, and improve your overall health.
Experts recommend the following lifestyle modifications for the prevention and management of hypertension:
• Lose weight, if you"re overweight
• Increase aerobic physical activity
• Reduce your sodium intake
• Maintain an adequate intake of dietary potassium and calcium
• Reduce your intake of dietary saturated fat and cholesterol
• Limit your alcohol intake
• Stop smoking
• Manage stress
Fortunately, most people with high blood pressure can significantly reduce their blood pressure by losing as little as 10 pounds. Weight loss also reduces the risk of heart disease and enhances the effects of some medications used to treat high blood pressure.
A nutritionist can also help you develop a healthful weight loss diet.
Here are some guidelines for losing weight and keeping it off:
• Lose weight slowly. Plan to lose no more than two to four pounds a month.
• Cut down on fatty foods. Eat a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables.
• Get more exercise. Exercise will help you to burn calories, and it will also help you to lose fat, not muscle.
Walking is one of the simplest, cheapest, and easiest ways to increase your physical activity level. For most people, walking is a good starting point,
• Start by buying a comfortable, well-fitted pair of walking shoes.
• Take short walks whenever you can fit them in. That might mean walking to the post office at lunch.
Later, aim for longer exercise sessions:
• Start by walking for at least 15 to 20 minutes several times a week.
• Gradually build up to at least 30 minutes, five times a week.
Limiting Salt In Your Diet
The role that sodium plays in hypertension is somewhat controversial. Sodium, found in table salt and processed foods, appears to affect blood pressure in some people while having little effect on others.
Some people can reduce their blood pressure simply by reducing the salt in their diet. These people are considered "salt sensitive," meaning that their blood pressure goes up when they eat more salt and goes down when they eat less salt.