Blood pressure refers to the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps blood throughout the body. Each time your heart beats, it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called ‘systolic pressure’. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called ‘diastolic pressure’.
Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms. Although a few people may experience a mild headache when their blood pressure is high.
To know whether a person has hypertension or not, the only way is to get it measured. A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg is considered ideal. A blood pressure reading over 120/80mmHg and 139/89mmHg are in prehypertension. And readings over 140/90mmHg means hypertension.
If you have high blood pressure, you can lower your blood pressure by making small changes in your lifestyle and diet. Here are some simple ways that can help you to control your blood pressure and keep your heart healthy.
1. Exercise Regularly
Exercise regularly strengthens your heart and helps your heart work more efficiently. This, in turn, decreases the force on your arteries. Regular physical activity also helps maintain a healthy weight.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic exercise, or a combination or moderate and vigorous activity. The best types of exercise for lowering blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. Strength training also can help reduce blood pressure. Aim to do muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week.
2. Eat Healthy Foods
A healthy diet is another important key to maintain healthy blood pressure. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and non-fat dairy products. It is a high fiber, rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, low fat diet. The DASH diet eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure by up to 14 mmHg.
3. Decrease The Amount of Salt In Your Diet
Eating too much salt is the major cause of high blood pressure – the more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure will be.
Salt makes your body retain water. If you eat too much, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure. This can be a particular problem if you have high blood pressure.
The Dietary Guidelines recommend that people with hypertension should limit their intake of salt to less than 1,500 milligrams a day. Otherwise healthy people can aim for 2,300 milligrams a day or less. Studies have shown that even a moderate reduction in sodium intake can lower blood pressure levels by 2 to 8 mmHg.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity increases your risk of high blood pressure, so it’s important to maintain a healthy weight. Research has shown that dropping just a few pounds can have a substantial impact on your blood pressure. If you want to lose weight, you may need to combine healthy diet with regular physical activity.
5. Limit Alcohol Intake
Alcohol consumption is a double-edged sword. Some studies indicate that it helps lower blood pressure, while others report the opposite. In very small amounts, it may be beneficial. But if you drink too much of it regularly, your blood pressure levels may go up.
If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drink a day for men.
6. Don’t Smoke
Cigarette smoking can raise your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. So, do not start, if you don’t smoke and if you do smoke, ask your health care provider to help you quit.