High blood pressure is one of the most common chronic illnesses. 90% of patients suffering from high blood pressure have no underlying cause; this is often referred to as essential hypertension. 10% of patients will have an underlying cause for an increase in their blood pressure, which may arise from either a problem in their kidneys, their adrenal glands, or elsewhere. The first line of management for high blood pressure is life style modification. This includes a change in your level of physical activity, as well as controlling factors in your diet that might be contributing to an increase in your blood pressure.
Source: American Heart Association
Lifestyle plays an important role in treating your high blood pressure. If you successfully control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you might avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication.
1. Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline
Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help reduce your blood pressure. Besides shedding pounds, you generally should also keep an eye on your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure.
- Men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters).
- Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (89 centimeters).
2. Exercise regularly
If you have slightly high blood pressure (prehypertension), exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.
The best types of exercise for lowering blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. Strength training also can help reduce blood pressure.
3. Eat a healthy diet
4. Reduce sodium in your diet
The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure varies among groups of people. In general, limit sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less.
To decrease sodium in your diet, consider these tips:
- Read food labels. If possible, choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy.
- Eat fewer processed foods. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing.
- Don’t add salt. Just 1 level teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your food.
- Ease into it. If you don’t feel you can drastically reduce the sodium in your diet suddenly, cut back gradually. Your palate will adjust over time.
5. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
But that protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol — generally more than one drink a day for women and for men older than age 65, or more than two a day for men age 65 and younger.
6. Quit smoking
7. Cut back on caffeine
8. Reduce your stress
Take some time to think about what causes you to feel stressed, such as work, family, finances or illness. Once you know what’s causing your stress, consider how you can eliminate or reduce stress.
9. Monitor your blood pressure at home and see your doctor regularly
10. Get support
If you find you need support beyond your family and friends, consider joining a support group. This may put you in touch with people who can give you an emotional or morale boost and who can offer practical tips to cope with your condition.