High blood pressure keeps your heart working overtime to pump blood through your vital organs so they work properly.
Your blood pressure reading plays a major role in measuring your health. You probably know your blood pressure numbers are important, but do you know how high blood pressure contributes to heart disease?.
High blood pressure keeps your heart working overtime to pump blood through your vital organs so they work properly. You may not notice symptoms of high blood pressure, but it can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.
What can you do to lower your blood pressure?
Once you know your numbers, you may want to find ways to lower them. A heart-healthy lifestyle can make a big difference. With consistent effort and changing long-term choices, some people have been able to improve their blood pressure readings without medical intervention. Here are the top five changes you can make to help decrease your blood pressure:
Maintain a normal body weight (a body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2). Reducing your weight can decrease your blood pressure by 5 to 20 mmHg for 20 pounds lost.
Adopt the DASH eating plan
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan calls for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products with a reduced content of saturated and total fat. It can decrease your blood pressure by 8 to 14 mmHg.
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Reduce sodium in your diet
Keeping your sodium intake to no more than 100 mq/day (2.4 g sodium or 6 g sodium chloride) will decrease your blood pressure by 2 to 8 mmHg.
Increase your physical activity
Engaging in regular aerobic activity such as brisk walking (at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week) will decrease your blood pressure by 4 to 9 mmHg.
Moderate your alcohol consumption
Men who limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day and women who keep it to one drink per day will decrease their blood pressure by 2 to 4 mmHg.
While each person is unique, and health factors make blood pressures vary, everyone’s goal should be a blood pressure under 140/90 mmHg. Everyone can take control of their health and possibly improve their blood pressure. Sometimes medication may be needed.
“Anything over 140/90 is definitely putting undue stress and potentially causing long-term effects on your cardiovascular system,” said Lesley A. Kellie, D.O., primary care physician with Norton Community Medical Associates. “If you have tried some of the steps above and you still cannot achieve a blood pressure under 140/90, it’s time to have a discussion with your health care provider.”
It’s important to remember. If your blood pressure is greater than 180/100 and you are experiencing headaches, vision changes, chest pain or shortness of breath, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.