If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, or hypertension, it can be both frightening and overwhelming – especially if it feels like there’s no way to combat its effects.

But the good news is that there are lots of achievable steps that you can take to help lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health!

In this blog post, we’ll look in detail at why reducing your blood pressure is so important, as well as actionable strategies for how you can safely and effectively lower yours. Let’s get started!

Why is High Blood Pressure Dangerous?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a silent but deadly condition that affects almost half of adults in the United States.

When you have high blood pressure, your heart must work harder to pump blood throughout your body, which can cause damage to arteries and other vital organs, leading to problems like heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

Sadly, many people are unaware that they even have high blood pressure because it often presents with no symptoms.

It is crucial to have routine check-ups with your healthcare provider to monitor and manage your blood pressure to reduce the risk of complications. Remember, early detection and treatment can save lives.

6 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for controlling blood pressure. When there is excess weight on the body, it can cause strain on the heart and arteries, ultimately leading to high blood pressure. Being overweight can also cause the body to store extra sodium, which raises blood pressure levels.

Shedding just a few pounds can greatly improve blood pressure readings and overall heart health. Furthermore, adopting healthy behaviors such as regular exercise and a balanced diet can also help regulate blood pressure levels.

To determine if someone is overweight or obese, two key measures can be used. Body mass index, or BMI, measures your weight relative to your height. It approximates total body fat—a risk factor that increases your chance of diseases like high blood pressure.

However, BMI alone cannot determine risk. BMI may overestimate body fat in someone who is muscular or has swelling due to edema. It may underestimate body fat in older individuals or those losing muscle.

That’s why waist measurement is also used. Too much body fat in the stomach area can also increase disease risk. Measurements of more than 35 inches in women or 40 inches in men are considered high. 

Limit sodium intake

Blood pressure, a measure of the force of blood against the walls of the arteries, can increase due to excess sodium in the diet. High blood pressure, if left unchecked, can result in serious health problems such as heart disease and stroke.

Therefore, it is essential to reduce the amount of sodium consumed in your diet. A diet low in sodium can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Experts recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day, with an ideal target being 1,500 milligrams per day or ¾ of a teaspoon for individuals at risk of high blood pressure. Here are some of the common foods that contain high levels of sodium, or the “salty six”, according to the American Heart Association:

  • Bread and rolls
  • Pizza
  • Sandwiches
  • Cold cuts & cured meats
  • Soup
  • Burritos & tacos

Sodium is also found in most processed foods, so make sure you pay close attention to food labels before buying. Learn more about how to read food labels here.

You can also substitute salt and sodium with spices, herbs, or salt-free seasoning. However, we recommend consulting with your doctor beforehand if you have other medical conditions, as some of these substitutions can be harmful. 

Exercise or be active

Engaging in routine physical activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, allows the heart muscles to perform better by reducing stress on the heart and improving circulation, thereby reducing the pressure on the arteries and allowing blood to flow more easily, which benefits people with high blood pressure.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days a week. These activities also include common chores, such as gardening, stair walking, or washing a car.

Limit alcohol

Taking control of your alcohol consumption is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially when trying to lower your blood pressure. Alcohol is well known for its detrimental effects on our bodies, causing damage to our liver, heart, and brain.

If you have high blood pressure, drink only a moderate amount of alcohol: one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. One drink equals to:

  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1 ½ ounces of 80-proof whiskey
  • 12 ounces of beer

Consuming more than two drinks per day can cause a significant increase in our blood pressure and increase our risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack. So why not commit to limiting alcohol intake today and take a step towards a healthier tomorrow?

Manage stress

Stress has a profound impact on our physical and emotional well-being. Research shows that when we experience stress, our body’s natural response is to release hormones that raise our blood pressure.

Over time, chronic stress can lead to hypertension, a serious condition that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. That’s why it’s crucial to manage stress if you want to keep your blood pressure under control.

By finding ways to cope with stress, such as meditation, yoga, exercise, or spending time with loved ones, you are taking an active step towards protecting your health.

So, the next time you feel the pressure mounting, take a deep breath and remind yourself that managing stress isn’t just a luxury – it’s the key to staying healthy and living your best life.

Prescribed medications

Sometimes, lifestyle changes may not be enough to get your blood pressure under control. In this case, you’ll need to consider taking prescribed drugs, such as diuretics, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, alpha-blockers, and more.

Your doctor will work with you to get the right drug type and dose level for your high blood pressure. Always take your medicine daily and as prescribed.

Set a daily reminder on your phone or put sticky notes in places such as on your bathroom mirror, on the fridge door, on your desktop/laptop, or even on your car’s steering wheel.

Read also: Dangers of Ignoring High Blood Pressure Diagnosis

These lifestyle modifications can also help to improve many other areas of your life, such as mental clarity, joint health, and even feelings of general well-being.

So, take the first steps today and get on the path to a healthier version of yourself.

If you are looking for a heart doctor near you in Lafayette, LA, schedule an appointment with Dr. Thomas today, and we will be more than happy to help guide you through your journey!