You may feel overwhelmed if you’ve been recently diagnosed with high blood pressure. While hypertension is a serious condition, you can make simple lifestyle changes to reduce the associated risks. Here are some relatively simple ways to manage high blood pressure.
Monitor Your Blood Pressure Regularly
Checking your blood pressure levels several times a week will allow you to determine how you respond to treatments or lifestyle changes. This way, you can alert your doctor of any changes.
For example, if a change you made to your diet increases your blood pressure instead of decreasing it, monitoring ensures you’ll know immediately. You can then inform your doctor so they can adjust treatment as necessary.
Eat Healthy Foods
Eating a healthier diet is a great way to manage high blood pressure. Many people eat a lot of processed food, often containing too much sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats, which negatively affects blood pressure and overall health.
Instead, try eating more wholesome, natural foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. For example, replace your morning cereal full of sugar with oatmeal or yogurt with fruit. Instead of potato chips, try nuts and seeds, swap out candy bars for fresh fruit, and replace creamy dips with hummus or guacamole.
Unfortunately, most people have a very sedentary lifestyle, meaning spending a large part of the day sitting. And that can make it harder to manage high blood pressure. One of the best ways to combat this is by exercising.
Exercising regularly will help you improve circulation, lower cholesterol, and decrease stress, improving your overall cardiovascular health. Ideally, you want to get about 150 minutes of exercise per week. While moderate intensity is best, like walking, swimming, or cycling, anything is better than nothing.
Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol can increase blood pressure. This is especially true if you’re constantly in a state of panic or worry. Learning effective strategies for managing stress is key here. Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, or deep breathing exercises.
Also, be sure to schedule regular downtime for yourself. Take time each day to practice mindfulness and disconnect from technology for a bit. Engage in activities that bring you joy, like reading a book, taking a bath, cooking a meal, or going for a walk outside.
Get Better Sleep
Skimping on quality sleep can leave you feeling depleted and run down, making it harder to manage high blood pressure. Plus, insufficient sleep means the body doesn’t have enough time to repair itself, which can increase blood pressure.
So, make sure you’re getting adequate rest every night. Prioritize seven to eight hours of good-quality sleep and a consistent bedtime routine. Avoid drinking caffeine or working out too close to bedtime, as this can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm.
Create an optimal sleeping environment by keeping your room cool and dark, eliminating noise, and avoiding bright screens before turning in for the night. Try using white noise or calming activities like reading or taking a warm bath to relax before dozing off.
Lower Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure and long-term harm to the heart muscle, so limiting your intake is vital to manage high blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, women shouldn’t have more than one drink daily, or the equivalent of 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, and men should stick to a maximum of two drinks.
Instead of having a few drinks with dinner or during happy hour, try swapping alcohol for healthier alternatives like sparkling water with lime or herbal tea. Also, avoid high-sugar mixers that can add empty calories and more sugar than necessary.
Cigarette smoke contains thousands of toxic chemicals, many of which increase blood pressure. Smoking can also damage your heart and lungs, putting you at risk of heart attack or stroke. Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits, so if you’re a smoker, it’s important to quit as soon as possible.
Make sure you have plenty of support from family and friends and find activities that help keep you away from cigarettes. Take up an activity like yoga or running that will keep you busy and give you something positive to focus on when you’re tempted to light up.
You might also want to try nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches or gum, or talk to your doctor about other treatments like medications or counseling.
Get Help to Manage Your High Blood Pressure
While high blood pressure is common, it’s a serious condition that can cause various health complications. Fortunately, you can manage your blood pressure in many ways, from eating a healthier diet to reducing your alcohol intake. These practices can help lower your risk of heart disease and other hypertension-related medical issues.
If you’re unsure what steps to take or need additional support managing your blood pressure, contact Imperial Center Family Medicine today. Our team of knowledgeable health-care professionals is available to provide guidance and answers to questions you may have.