I have had high Blood Pressure (BP) for over 30 years, and have been on high BP medication for 25 years. It took time for my BP numbers to be high, and it has taken me many life changes to bring it back down again. I use both natural remedies and medication. HBP runs in my family, and my father dies of a massive heart attack 20 years ago on Christmas morning. I don't want to give that to my children.
It takes time and patience to get to know my body well enough to know my PB patterns and to change them.
1. I keep my weight in a healthy range and my waistline small. Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes in controlling blood pressure. Losing even a small amount of weight if you're overweight or obese can help reduce your blood pressure. In general, you may reduce your blood pressure by about 1 millimeter of mercury (mm Hg) with each kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of weight you lose.
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
Regular physical activity — such as 150 minutes a week, or about 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure. It's important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again.
3. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure. This eating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
4. Reduce sodium in your diet
Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can improve your heart health and reduce blood pressure by about 5 to 6 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.
The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure varies among groups of people. In general, limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less. However, a lower sodium intake — 1,500 mg a day or less — is ideal for most adults.
5. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. I have a glass of red wine before dinner each evening.
Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. By drinking alcohol only in moderation — generally one drink a day for women, or two a day for men — you can potentially lower your blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. You need to know that the protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol.
6. No smoking! Smoking raises your BP. Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure for many minutes after you finish. Stopping smoking helps your blood pressure return to normal. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health. People who quit smoking may live longer than people who never quit smoking.
7. Cut back on caffeine and drink 8 glasses of water every day. I now only drink 1 cup of coffee each morning.
The role caffeine plays in blood pressure is still debated. Caffeine can raise blood pressure up to 10 mm Hg in people who rarely consume it. But people who drink coffee regularly may experience little or no effect on their blood pressure.
8. Reduce your stress
Chronic stress may contribute to high blood pressure. I have become more accepting of the things that I cannot change, and I focus on what I can change. I avoid negative people who are not going to help my life. Getting in my exercise helps me keep the stress low. Also, I practice gratitude each day.
9. Monitor your blood pressure at home and see your doctor regularly
Home monitoring can help you keep tabs on your blood pressure, make certain your lifestyle changes are working, and alert you and your doctor to potential health complications. Blood pressure monitors are available widely and without a prescription. Talk to your doctor about home monitoring before you get started.
10. Get support
Supportive family and friends can help improve your health. They may encourage you to take care of yourself, drive you to the doctor's office or embark on an exercise program with you to keep your blood pressure low. Also, I have a health coach that my health insurance provides. Josh is very good, and just talking with a person with a fresh perspective on my health is good!