High blood pressure is one of the most common chronic health conditions among adults worldwide. It occurs when the force of the blood against the walls of the arteries is too high, causing damage to the arteries over time. As high blood pressure often causes no signs or symptoms, it is known as the “silent killer”.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and other serious medical problems. That’s why, it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly so that it can be controlled.
High blood pressure can be managed or controlled by making a few changes in your lifestyle and diet. If you want to lower or control your blood pressure, here are some simple ways to get started.
1. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise can help strengthen your heart and help your heart work more efficiently. This, in turn, decrease 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. Adopt the DASH diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet was created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help control hypertension or high blood pressure.
The DASH eating plan recommends eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, low-fat dairy products, nuts, beans, and vegetable oils; limiting foods high in saturated fat such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oils; and limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.
The DASH diet is rich in several nutrients known to play important roles in regulating blood pressure, including calcium, potassium, and magnesium, and is lower in sodium and saturated fat than the typical American diet.
Research has shown that people who adopt the DASH diet can lower their blood pressure by a few points in couple of weeks, and over time, up to 8 to 14 points, which significantly reduces the risk of heart disease.
Read also: 20 foods that lower high blood pressure
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 American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium (around 1 teaspoon of salt) a day with an ideal limit of less than 1,500 mg per day, especially for those with high blood pressure.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight puts extra strain on your heart, increasing the risk of high blood pressure. So, it’s important to achieve a healthy weight, even a small weight loss can help a lot.
If you want to lose weight, you should combine healthy eating with regular exercise. Check out these tips to help you achieve a healthy weight.
5. Reduce stress
Chronic stress may contribute to high blood pressure. Stress increases hormones in the blood that cause your heart beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow, thereby raising your blood pressure.
Moreover, when you experience stress, you might also be more likely to engage in other behaviors, such as drinking alcohol or eating unhealthy food, which can negatively affect your blood pressure.
If you’re feeling stressed, try practicing some relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation, getting enough sleep, maintaining a good diet and doing some exercises. Learn more tips to relieve stress and anxiety.
6. 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 two drinks a day for men and no more than one drink a day for women.
7. 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.