High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to life-threatening complications. Learn more about the causes, risk factors, and treatments for hypertension, and get tips on how to lower your reading and reduce your risk.
Your doctor will check your blood pressure with a small gauge attached to an inflatable cuff around your upper arm. The cuff is comfortable and painless.
Know Your Numbers
Knowing your blood pressure numbers can help you understand how well your heart functions. It readings measure the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats (systolic) and when your heart rests between beats (diastolic).
It’s important to know your numbers to keep them in a healthy range or lower them if they are higher than normal.
The best way to get your blood pressure in a healthy range is to make simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. For instance, eat a heart-healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. Limit your intake of processed foods, salt, and alcohol.
Know Your Risk
When it comes to several health issues, knowing your risk can help you determine what steps you can take to reduce the chances of developing them. This is especially true for blood pressure.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, and managing stress are some of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure.
Unfortunately, some things you can’t control can increase your risk for blood pressure, such as age and genetics. However, you can still make the right choices to lower your risk and prevent this potentially dangerous condition from affecting your life. Know your risk so you can make the best decisions for your lifestyle.
Exercising regularly is one of the most practical and rewarding things you can do to manage your blood pressure. It can help you lower your blood pressure immediately and over time.
Exercise strengthens your heart and makes your blood vessels less stiff so they can pump more easily. It can also improve your general health and lower your stress levels.
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week, plus two days of muscle-strengthening exercises. Start slowly and work up to that amount over time.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt can help you manage your blood pressure effectively. These diets include the DASH diet or the Mediterranean diet.
A healthy diet can also improve the effectiveness of your medication. It can help lower your blood pressure to normal levels, a step toward preventing heart disease and stroke and decreasing the risk of kidney damage, vision loss, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, and other health problems.
Getting regular exercise can also help you control your blood pressure. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes daily, most days of the week.
Manage Your Stress
Everyone feels stress occasionally, but chronically high levels can have serious health consequences. Learn healthy ways to manage your stress and prevent it from affecting your heart health.
Stress comes from various sources, including life changes, job challenges, family responsibilities, and health issues. It can last long-term or come on suddenly.
When stressed, your body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that raise hypertension. It’s normal for these stressors to elevate your high blood pressure for a short time.
When your stressors pass, your blood pressure returns to normal. But the longer you live with high-stress levels, the more likely you are to develop hypertension.
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Staying active is a great way to lower your blood pressure. It also can help you control your weight, strengthen your heart and reduce stress.
Even a short 30-minute walk a day can make a big difference. Health professionals recommend breaking it up into several sessions throughout the day.
Aerobic exercise, which makes you breathe harder and sweat more, is especially helpful in lowering blood pressure. It can include walking, jogging, swimming, or biking.