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What You Can Do About High Blood Pressure

Woman monitoring her own blood pressure

You go for a routine check up. The diagnosis: High blood pressure, a.k.a. The Silent Killer. It is asymptomatic. It sneaks up on a third of Americans without them even knowing it. High blood pressure does not make your head ache, it does not make you bleed, it does not make you break out in a rash, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s not deadly. It works against your heart and arteries and can cause kidney disease, blindness, brain hemorrhage, and, eventually death. Of the 29% of Americans with high blood pressure, only 54% have it under control. However, if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you can keep yourself in that percentage. Here are some tips on doing just that.

Lose weight
Blood pressure can increase with weight, and, if you suffer from sleep apnea, as a result of excess weight, your blood pressure can increase even more. Losing just 10 lbs is enough to bring about a significant reduction in blood pressure.

While you are slimming down, you may want to pay special attention to your waistline. Men with a waist measurement greater than 40″ are at risk for high blood pressure, as are women with waist measurements exceeding 35 inches.

Exercise
If you have high blood pressure, you can reduce your blood pressure by 4-9 mm of mercury by performing at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days. But, it’s important to keep it up. A lapse in consistency can cause blood pressure to go back up.

Woman jogging

The Dash Diet
The Dash diet, also known as the Dietary Approaches to stop Hypertension is the suggested diet for lowering hypertension. It consists of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and is low in cholesterol and saturated fat and high in potassium.

Limit Alcohol Intake
Although small amounts of alcohol can lower your blood pressure, too much alcohol can reverse the effects. Women and men over 65 should not drink more than one drink a day, while men under 65 should not exceed two drinks. Twelve ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor constitute one drink.

Reduce Sodium
Although a reduction in sodium can reduce blood pressure in all people, the amount of recommended intake varies. Sodium should generally be limited to less than 2,300 mg per day; however, an intake of 1,500mg a day is more appropriate for higher-risk groups, including African Americans, people 51 or older, and anyone diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease.

Man cutting cigarettes in half

Quit Smoking
Each cigarette increases blood pressure for several minutes after you smoke it. Quit smoking to reduce blood pressure and increase life expectancy.

Monitor Blood Pressure and See Your Doctor Often
It is important to keep track of blood pressure levels and home monitoring can help you make sure that your lifestyle changes are effective and alert you to complications. Monitors are widely available and do not require a prescription.

See your doctor every six to twelve months to keep your blood pressure under control.

Do you have high blood pressure? How do you keep it under control? Let us know! Your advice could make a difference!

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