Heart Disease

Managing Your Blood Pressure

Managing Your Blood Pressure

One of the most important numbers you can know about your heart is your blood pressure.  This is the amount of force that your blood exerts on the walls of your blood vessels. 

When your blood pressure is high over a long period of time, it can put you at risk for heart disease. If you’re been diagnosed with high blood pressure – or you have a family history of high blood pressure – it’s important that you do all you can to get it down. 

For many people, blood pressure can be lowered through dietary changes.  That can mean avoiding medication.  For others, lifestyle changes must be combined with medications.

The first place to work toward lowering your blood pressure is with your diet. 

You need to consume low amounts of sodium – less than 2400 mg a day.  That may seem like a lot, but that’s how much sodium is in one teaspoon of salt.  So it doesn’t take much to exceed your limit. 

You also need to focus on eating lots of fruits and vegetables, lean dairy products, and lean protein.  All of these combined can help to lower your blood pressure. Alcohol and high blood pressure don’t go together well. 

If you drink, you should have no more than one drink daily.  It’s even better to completely abstain.  Tobacco is another product that can raise your blood pressure by stimulating your heart rate and clogging your blood vessels.  It’s best to eliminate tobacco in all forms from your life.

Exercise is also essential in controlling your blood pressure.  Just 30 minutes of walking each day can significantly lower your blood pressure.  It can also improve your good cholesterol and condition your heart.  This is a win-win situation.

Keeping your body at a healthy weight can also help you to maintain normal blood pressure.  This doesn’t mean that you need to spend two hours at the gym each day.  Simply losing a small percentage of your body weight may be enough to significantly improve your blood pressure.  Start with a goal of 10% of your current weight and see what changes occur.

For many people, lifestyle changes will be enough to control blood pressure.  Still for some people medication will be required.  Talk with your doctor about the best course of action if your lifestyle changes haven’t lowered your blood pressure to normal levels.  Together you can make the best decisions for your long-term heart health.

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