High blood pressure, or hypertension, makes your blood flow through your arteries with more force, or pressure, than normal. The longer your blood pressure remains high and untreated, the more damage it can cause to your blood vessels. Furthermore, high blood pressure can cause a variety of complications, such as heart disease and stroke, which are two of the leading causes of death in the United States.
Board-certified family physician Karl Trippe, MD, and the staff of Waco Primary Care in Waco, Texas, provide expert diagnosis and management of high blood pressure. If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, Dr. Trippe can design a treatment plan to manage your symptoms and, subsequently, reduce your risk of developing life-threatening and debilitating complications.
High blood pressure can be managed and often reversed with a combination of lifestyle changes and prescription medication. In this blog, Dr. Trippe discusses ways to control high blood pressure and protect your overall wellness.
Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet can help you reduce and manage high blood pressure. A healthy diet should be rich in protein and fiber and low in saturated fat, cholesterol, salt, and sweets. It should also provide a good supply of magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which are minerals that help regulate blood pressure.
And, a healthy diet should involve consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Many individuals who seek a plan that adheres to these guidelines follow the DASH plan, which stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension.
Maintain a healthy weight
Carrying extra weight, especially around your abdomen, can increase your blood volume and force your heart to work harder to pump blood through your body. You can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure by losing just 5-10% of your body weight.
If you struggle with being overweight or obese, medical weight management may provide the direction and support you need to achieve your goals.
Get regular exercise
Getting regular exercise is another layer in the foundation to reduce and stabilize blood pressure. Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. In general, this means doing activities that make your heart beat faster, such as swimming or riding a bike.
The good news is that you can reap the benefits of this type of activity even if you divide your total requirement into smaller chunks of time, such as 30 minutes a day for five days a week. You should also spend some time at least two days a week engaging in muscle-strengthening activities, such as lifting weights or doing pushups.
Limit alcohol consumption
Alcohol naturally raises blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Consuming more than three drinks in one sitting can raise your blood pressure temporarily, but repeated binge drinking can result in long-term high blood pressure.
To avoid having chronic high blood pressure, drinking should be limited to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. However, it’s important to consider that alcohol, especially many sweet mixed drinks, can include extra calories, which can interfere with your goal of maintaining a healthy weight.
Your body produces the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol when you experience stress. These hormones temporarily increase your blood pressure. Your body reacts by increasing your heartbeat and narrowing your blood vessels until the stress passes.
While periodic episodes of stress are normal, being stressed for long periods of time can increase your risk of developing complications, such as weight gain, heart disease, and digestion problems. Dealing with stress by smoking, overeating, or drinking alcohol can further increase your risk of developing complications
Finding healthy coping mechanisms, such as taking walks or having some quiet time, can help reduce and prevent stress.
Get enough sleep
Your body experiences a decrease in blood pressure in the deepest stages of sleep. However, you may be depriving yourself of this daily reduction in blood pressure if you’re not getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Without this natural benefit, you may increase your risk of having high blood pressure when you’re awake.
Treating sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, establishing a nightly bedtime routine, and creating a comfortable sleep environment can help you get the sleep you need to maintain normal blood pressure.
Take prescribed medications
If you’re instructed to take prescription medication to control high blood pressure, it’s important to do so. And, if medication lowers your blood pressure, you need to continue taking it until your provider says it’s safe to reduce your dosage or discontinue using it.
Schedule regular wellness checkups
Going to regular checkups for your condition can help ensure that you’re succeeding in reducing and managing your high blood pressure and avoiding the dangerous complications it can cause.