Unfortunately high blood pressure is typically asymptomatic which is why the American Heart Association recommends getting your blood pressure checked-regularly. This is as easy as stopping by your local pharmacy. Look for a reading of 120/80 mm Hg or lower. If it is higher, now is the time to make a promise to your self and those you love, don’t let high blood pressure be a silent killer. (1)
Fortunately, all of the factors that impact blood pressure are within your control; diet, weight, physical activity, stress, tobacco and alcohol use. You can improve the condition of your health by choosing to make a few manageable changes.
A study of the DASH diet saw a decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in as little as 8 weeks. (2) Start with a focus on making these two dietary changes: reduce the amount of sodium in your diet to 2,300mg or less and increase the amount of potassium containing fruits and vegetables you eat to 4-5 servings per day.
Weight loss has proven to reduce blood pressure numbers. Get active and enjoy moving your body, find that thing you enjoy. If you are overweight then choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables will also help with your weight loss goals because they are low in calories and high in fiber. (3)(4)
There are many wonderful ways to manage stress; meditation and exercise are the best. Exercise is great because you produce endorphins that have a pleasurable affect but also burn calories assisting in maintaining a healthy weight.
If you drink alcohol in excess of the recommendations and have hypertension, then cut it back. If you smoke, then quit, period.
Even though you now know that making positive lifestyle changes can improve blood pressure readings, changing may seem difficult. Take a moment though and imagine the all of the benefits. Think about possible barriers and how you can overcome them. Who in your life would love to support these positive changes? Make a health goal and accomplish it!
1. The Facts About High Blood Pressure. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2017.
2. Appel LJ, Moore TJ, Boarzanek E, et al. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. N Engl J Med1997;336:1117-24.
3. Eliasson K, Ryttig KR, Hylander B, Rossner S. A dietary fibre supplement in the treatment of mild hypertension. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Hypertens1992;10:195-9.
4. He J, Whelton PK, Appel LJ, et al. Long-term effects of weight loss and dietary sodium reduction on incidence of hypertension. Hypertension2000;35:544-9.