High blood pressure increases your risk for dangerous health conditions like a stroke, a heart attack, kidney disease, and chronic heart failure. If that doesn’t give you the motivation to manage your blood pressure, this might.
High blood pressure is commonly known as a “silent killer” because there are normally no specific symptoms associated with the condition. High blood pressure contributes to approximately 1,000 American deaths each day, according to the CDC. To lower this alarming statistic, everyone should pay attention to the following tips on how to lower your risk for high blood pressure.
Reduce Salt Intake
It may be easy to lay off the salt shaker when cooking and eating. What takes concentration is reading those labels on pre-packaged dinners, frozen entrees or snacks, canned soups, and cold cuts. You will be shocked at just how much sodium they contain.
Make an effort to look for reduced sodium products or, even better, stick with whole foods and ditch the processed ones entirely. The recommended dietary guidelines suggest that individuals consume no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day.
No matter your age, one way to lower your blood pressure is to get out and move. Regular exercise or brisk walking for 30 minutes a day can strengthen your heart and help it to more efficiently pump blood throughout your body. Over time you should slowly increase speed, distance, and even add some weights once you are comfortable.
Eat Potassium Rich Foods
Potassium is a heart healthy mineral. It causes the kidneys to excrete more sodium through urination which helps lower blood pressure. Think bananas, leafy green veggies, sweet potatoes, OJ, kidney beans, peas, low fat dairy, cantaloupe, honey dew, and dried fruits like raisins or prunes. Aim for 2000-4000 mg of potassium in your daily diet to get the very best benefits.
Cut Back a Bit on Caffeine
There is some controversy about this one. Caffeine can give you a short term spike in blood pressure, but it’s not long lasting. Caffeine does tighten your blood vessels and may add to stress, so make sure to stay in check on how much you drink per day.
Try for That “Work-Life Balance”
You know, the one all the millennials talk about. Relax, enjoy life, and don’t work too much. It will help you manage stress, give you time to exercise, and yes, eat a more healthy diet. Your overall health can seriously benefit from you taking the weekend off and saying no sometimes to extra projects at work.
Eat Dark Chocolate
Now this is stress free. The flavonoids in dark chocolate and cocoa powder relax blood vessels and boost blood flow. Just remember to eat treats like this in moderation or else you will increase your risk for a whole bunch of other health problems.
Herbal teas can help with relaxation and it seems that Hibiscus tea can actually lower blood pressure.
Put Music Back in Your Life
Since you now have that “work-life balance” down, you have more time to listen to music. Pick whatever soothes your soul from rock, to classical, to country, or beyond.
This probably should have been the first simple solution to high blood pressure. It may not be easy, but it is certainly worth the effort. Smoking is one of the highest risk factors for high blood pressure and all that comes with it. Ask for help. There are lots of support groups and medications to break the habit.
Cut Out Added Sugar
This is another one that may not quite so easy to do. We truly can become addicted to extra sweeteners, but consciously reducing them in your daily diet will help you lose some weight and make exercise easier. All of this will help lead you to a healthier lifestyle and lower blood pressure.
Ask Your Significant Other If You Snore
OSA or obstructed sleep apnea is a real problem that has life threatening consequences. It is important to get sleep apnea under control to prevent heart disease, stroke, and other significant issues.
Half of those with OSA have high blood pressure. Daytime drowsiness, morning headaches, and dry mouth are all signs of snoring and sleep apnea. Don’t overlook this one: it’s dangerous for you and others.
Take Your Pressure Regularly
Since many people don’t even know they have high blood pressure, it makes sense to take your own pressure regularly to stay informed. See KU Wichita Internal Medicine if you wish to measure your current blood pressure, or to discuss ways that you may be able to prevent or treat high blood pressure from negatively impacting your life.