How Lifestyle Changes Can Reduce Your High Blood Pressure

Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure. This silent and dangerous condition — also known as hypertension — can put your life at risk.

But there’s also good news.

Aside from aging and a family history, you can control everything that causes high blood pressure. You have the power to lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of health complications, and avoid medications for the rest of your life.

Our experts at Macomb Medical Clinic in Sterling Heights, Michigan, urge our patients with high blood pressure to adopt lifestyle changes. Here are the most effective ones you can make to keep your numbers within a healthy range — no higher than 120/80

Reach and maintain a healthy weight

Gaining extra weight may cause you to fixate on the scale, but focus on your heart too. Being overweight or obese can make your blood pressure numbers soar. 

Fortunately, losing just a little over 2 pounds can positively affect your blood pressure, dropping it by about 1 mm Hg. 

Our team can help with a medical weight management strategy.

Adopt the DASH diet

A few dietary changes can do wonders for high blood pressure. Not sure where to start? The DASH diet can help.

The DASH diet — dietary approaches to stop hypertension — consists of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. You also need to cut back or eliminate saturated fats and high-cholesterol foods. 

Switching to the DASH diet can decrease blood pressure by 11 mm Hg. It also increases potassium intake, an essential nutrient that keeps blood pressure in check.

Move your body

A leading contributor to hypertension is a sedentary lifestyle. If you sit at a desk all day and move to the couch in the evening, you wreak havoc on your health. But don’t worry — you don’t have to train for a marathon to improve your blood pressure.

Instead, a little regular movement regularly can bring those numbers down. Raising your heart rate for up to 30 minutes daily improves blood pressure by 5-8 mm Hg.

Cut back on salt

Salt — or sodium — sends blood pressure through the roof, and the American diet is often salty. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize it because it hides in fast food, processed foods, and canned goods. 

The American Heart Association generally recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, with 1,500 milligrams the ideal limit. However, the average American eats nearly 3,500 milligrams of salt each day. 

Read the nutritional labels on the products you buy — the amount of salt they contain could alarm you. Fortunately, simply reducing the sodium you consume on a daily basis can significantly lower your blood pressure, with no medication required.

Reduce caffeine and alcohol 

How many cups of joe do you need to kick-start your day? That seemingly harmless habit could raise your blood pressure — but it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. 

To see if caffeine is behind your high numbers, measure your blood pressure. Then, drink a caffeinated beverage and measure again about a half-hour later. A higher reading is a pretty sure sign caffeine affects your blood pressure, and it’s time to cut back or eliminate it entirely.

Alcohol also has an interesting link to blood pressure. When consumed in small amounts, it can lower your numbers. However, too much has the opposite effect. What’s a small amount? For men, that’s about two drinks a day. For women, it’s about one drink. 

Keep cool

No, we’re not talking about turning up the air conditioning. 

If you’ve ever noticed your heart racing in traffic or during a confrontation, that’s stress talking. Living with stress day in and day out can damage your heart and increase your blood pressure. 

Similarly, stress often feeds unhealthy coping behaviors, like binging on unhealthy food, drinking, and smoking — which worsens the problem. 

You can’t avoid stress entirely, but you can try to reduce stressful situations and find healthier ways to cope. For instance, exercise can reverse the physical effects of stress, along with yoga, meditation, music, and breathing exercises. 

Finally, if you need medication to get your numbers under control, our team monitors you closely. The healthy changes outlined above can often reduce or eliminate the need for prescriptions. 

Ready to learn more about how to keep your blood pressure in check? Call Macomb Medical Clinic today at 586-315-2393.

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