Hypertension is a severe condition that can lead to other, potentially deadly complications like heart attack and stroke if left untreated. There are rarely any signs or symptoms of hypertension, so checking your blood pressure regularly is one of the best ways to diagnose this condition. Although there are a variety of causes, one thing is sure: getting the proper treatment for high blood pressure is important. Your doctor will tell you if your condition is serious enough to warrant prescription medication, but what are some additional steps you can take to lower blood pressure and manage your hypertension?
Reduce Salt Intake
Do you eat chips with your lunch every day, or add table salt to every meal? If so, you probably know you’re consuming too much sodium. However, there are lots of other foods with hidden sodium: canned or frozen foods, boxed dinners and restaurant meals, to name a few. To lower your blood pressure, you need to reduce the amount of salt you eat and drink. Order low-sodium options when dining out, and use fresh ingredients at home rather than food that has been preserved. To add flavor to salt-less dishes, use seasonings like spices, herbs, and lemon or lime juices.
Working out for 30 minutes a day can improve your overall cardiovascular health, and it is especially useful for lowering blood pressure. Even light exercise like walking can make a big difference in decreasing hypertension. When you do cardio exercise regularly, your heart does not need to use as much effort to pump blood. Over time, you will need to increase the strenuousness of your workout to achieve the same heart rate. If you feel like you don’t have the time or energy to go to the gym, try taking a brisk walk at lunchtime or using the stairs at work. Some activity is better than none.
If you smoke, you are raising your blood pressure. Nicotine increases blood pressure and heart rate, which means long-term smokers are at risk for developing hypertension. That means that smokers should consider joining a cessation program or taking other steps to wean themselves off cigarettes. However, avoid treatments like the nicotine patch unless you talk to your doctor first. Nicotine is the cause of high blood pressure in smokers, so if you use too large of a patch, you may end up making your hypertension worse by accidentally increasing your nicotine intake instead.
Tension and stress increase blood pressure levels, so to help hypertension, de-stress your life. Everyone’s stressors are different, so take stock of what the causes of anxiety are in your life. Develop a plan to improve your mental health. Consider cutting back on commitments or workload, and de-clutter your life by using good organizational skills. Even if you cannot reduce your stress sources, you can practice anxiety-reducing techniques like yoga, meditation or journaling. Stress and other mental health issues can have a significant impact on your body’s physical health, and reducing it can go a long way to lowering your blood pressure.
Lose Weight, Especially At the Waist
Hypertension is much more common in those who are overweight or obese than in the average adult. If you fall into this category, losing that extra weight can help you to lower your blood pressure. This need is particularly the case for people who carry most of their fat around their midsection. A “beer gut” is typically a sign of visceral fat, which is when fat collects around your internal organs, causing your midsection to bulge out. This kind of fat is dangerous for your heart and can raise blood pressure. Proper exercise and diet can help you to shed these pounds.
Eat a Healthy Diet
In addition to helping you lose weight, eating a healthy diet can help hypertension. The DASH diet is commonly used to treat those with high blood pressure. It recommends eating foods that are low in cholesterol, trans fat, and saturated fat. Instead, eat foods with fiber, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. These include almonds, peas, beans, lean meat, and fruits and vegetables. All of these foods provide the nutrients needed to burn excess fat and keep your heart healthy. It is important to keep portion sizes in mind and avoid versions of these foods that have added sodium.
It may benefit you to use herbs or herbal supplements in your efforts to treat hypertension. Three of the most common herbs used are garlic, ginger, and lavender. Fresh garlic encourages blood vessel dilation and can be utilized in a variety of dishes. If you don’t like the taste, you can also purchase garlic supplements. Similarly, ginger is thought to improve circulation. It too can be used in many recipes but is also popular in tea form. A cup of ginger tea is a good way to begin your day. Finally, lavender is commonly used for stress-relief and relaxation. While you can cook using lavender, it is more often used as an essential oil.
Vitamins and Supplements
In addition to herbs, hypertension can also be remedied with vitamins and supplements. These include Vitamins D and E, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and iron. All of these are beneficial for improving circulation and lower blood pressure. While most can be found naturally in the food you eat, many people do not get enough of these vitamins and nutrients in their daily diet. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, are commonly found in fish and nuts – foods that some may not like or be able to eat. If this is the case for you, you should consider taking a supplement. Supplements are easily purchased at most pharmacies and grocery stores.
Drinking too much alcohol is never a good thing for your health, but did you know that it can also cause hypertension? Limiting alcohol to just one serving is a good idea for those who are worried about high blood pressure. Binge drinking, which means periodically consuming significant amounts of alcohol in a short period, can cause long-term high blood pressure. However, any amount of over-consumption can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. Also, many alcoholic drinks contain unhealthy fats, which can have an adverse impact on your hypertension as well. By decreasing alcohol consumption to a single serving, you can lower your blood pressure.
Most people have a morning cup of coffee to start the day, but for many individuals, this is hardly the only time they consume caffeine. Espresso, soda, tea, and second or third cups of coffee can increase caffeine intake to unhealthy levels, which raise blood pressure. If you consume several cups of coffee or tea per day, consider switching to a decaf version that will keep your hypertension in check. Soda also comes in caffeine-free versions. However, you’re better off avoiding the fattening drink altogether. If the thought of cutting back on caffeine seems impossible, you should consider reducing your workload and getting more rest.