Over time, some bad habits such as eating salty snack foods, not getting enough exercise, overindulging in alcohol or smoking can take their toll on your overall health, especially blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension, is dangerous. It often does not have any symptoms while damaging your blood vessels. That is why it is often called the “silent killer”. If untreated, you may be at risk for kidney disease, heart attack or stroke.
Take Control of Your High Blood Pressure!
1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure – so you are not alone! Listen to your doctor’s recommendations and start making positive lifestyle changes that can help enhance your quality of life and reduce your risks of heart and kidney disease.
Regular physical exercise can make your heart stronger. A strong heart can pump more blood with less effort. This means less force on your arteries, lowering your blood pressure. Becoming more active can lower your systolic blood pressure reading (the top/larger number in your blood pressure reading) by an average of 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm HG). Get Active to Improve Hyperlipidemia
Regular exercise is also important even if you have normal blood pressure – less than 120/80 mm Hg. Exercise can help prevent blood pressure from rising as you age, and help keep off weight gain.
Eating right does not need to be hard or mean you have to give up foods that you love. You just need to know which foods are smarter choices and start changing your eating patterns to incorporate the foods that are better for your health. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, skinless poultry and fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids, low-fat and fat-free dairy and healthier fats such as olive oil are easy to incorporate in your diet. Yes, you may be “giving” up sweets and added sugars, sodium and salt, saturated fat and fatty cuts of meat or processed meats, but you will not be sacrificing flavor! Read the nutrients on food labels when you shop. Watch your calories – eat only what you burn through activity. Watch your portions, especially when eating out. You can control ingredients, preparation methods and portions more when you cook and eat at home. Vary your diet and make sure you are eating foods from all the food groups.
The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your heart and blood vessels in many ways. They increase your blood pressure and heart rate, making your heart work harder than normal. They also contribute to inflammation, which may trigger plaque buildup in your arteries, damage blood vessel walls, making them stiff and less elastic (stretchy). This damage narrows the blood vessels and contributes to the damage caused by unhealthy cholesterol levels. Disturb normal heart rhythms. They lower your HDL (“good”) cholesterol and raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Smoking also increases your triglyceride level. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. Smoking also thickens your blood and make it harder for your blood to carry oxygen. Learn more about the risks of smoking and your health: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/smoking-and-your-heart
Being overweight puts extra strain on your heart, increasing the risk for developing high blood pressure and damage to your blood vessels that can lead to serious health threats.
According to the American Heart Association, even a small amount of weight loss – 5 to 10 pounds if you are overweight (have a body mass index of 25 or higher) can make a big difference on your blood pressure reading and lower your risk for heart disease and kidney disease. Eat well and move more for big benefits! Learn more at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/overweight-and-obesity
As the wise old expression says, “Moderation in everything”. Especially in alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol can raise the levels of some fats in the blood. It can also lead to increased calorie intake – increased calorie intake can lead to obesity and diabetes. Excess drinking can also raise your blood pressure and lead to heart failure or stroke. For men, average weekly consumption should be no more than 2 drinks per day, and 1 if you are a woman. A drink is one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits.
Manage your blood sugar and cholesterol:
Limiting your consumption of added sugar in your diet and reducing unhealthy fats and oils can help reduce your heart risks. In addition to steps to lower your blood pressure, managing blood sugar and lowering your cholesterol can improve your overall health and minimize some of your heart and kidney disease risks.
You can fight high blood pressure!
Sticking to these healthy lifestyle changes can make a big difference. These steps can help you reduce your blood pressure, prevent or delay the development of high blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart attack or heart failure, stroke or kidney damage in the future.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/high-blood-pressure. Accessed on January 2, 2018