High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a dangerous condition that can do irreparable damage to the heart. While short bouts of high blood pressure are not necessarily dangerous, a chronic condition, left untreated, heightens the risk of heart disease and its serious complications, including heart failure, heart attack and stroke.
High blood pressure can also cause other problems, including chronic chest pain, high cholesterol, poor blood circulation, damaged arteries, blindness and renal failure. Taken together, high blood pressure can put a person at a greater risk of life-threatening conditions.
But there’s hope for people suffering from or most at-risk of this condition: Experts find that eating a balanced diet, exercising, adopting other healthy habits and sustaining these for the long-term can promote better blood pressure regulation and optimal health in general.
Tips for better blood pressure control
In one of her recent articles published online, medical researcher Candace Osmond shared six simple and doable tips for reducing blood pressure and keeping it stable in the long run:
Maintain proper weight
Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Being obese or overweight can also cause disrupted breathing during sleep, which further raises blood pressure.
Therefore, one of the most effective means of reducing high blood pressure is to lose weight, and it doesn’t have to be a major weight loss either. Losing even just a small amount can help reduce blood pressure.
The waistline is also a good indicator of one’s general health and blood pressure. Those at risk of high blood pressure and other health problems associated with being obese tend to have waistlines greater than 35 inches.
Keep this number in mind and watch the scale when dieting or exercising for weight loss. (Related: Clean eating: Vegetarian weight loss tips.)
On top of raising the risk of obesity, a sedentary lifestyle can also pose a number of health risks, including high blood pressure. Practice exercising for at least 20 minutes every day to significantly reduce blood pressure.
Exercise also does not have to mean lifting, intense push-ups or going to the fitness center. Simple exercises like aerobics, jogging and going up the stairs can be just as intensive and beneficial.
Drink less alcohol and caffeine
Drinking too much and too often can raise blood pressure. In fact, alcohol consumption is linked to 16 percent of all high blood pressure cases around the globe, according to research from 2006. Therefore, limit alcohol intake or consider forgoing it altogether.
Caffeine, on the other hand, can also cause a short-term spike in blood pressure. Like alcohol, it’s better to drink coffee or caffeinated tea in moderation or substitute them for healthier drinks.
Smoking is one of the leading factors that causes and exacerbates high blood pressure. Therefore, quitting smoking is one of the best things people can do for their hearts. It is also good for one’s general health, as smoking can cause other problems in the long run, like pneumonia, asthma and lung cancer.
Opt for healthier diets
Processed foods and foods chock-full of sugar, salt and saturated fat are bad for both blood pressure and health, in general.
Cut back on these foods and load up instead on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. Experts also recommend increasing potassium intake as it can counteract the effects of excess sodium on blood pressure.
Chronic stress could mean that the body is in constant fight-or-flight mode. This translates to a faster heart rate, impaired blood circulation and high blood pressure. Chronic stress can also encourage reckless decisions, like drinking too much alcohol or eating more processed foods.
Experts find that managing stress can keep blood pressure in the normal range. Here are some tips for reducing stress and, in turn, regulating blood pressure:
- Practice meditation and breathing exercises.
- Listen to calming music.
- Sit outside in the sun.
- Engage in social interactions.
- Steer clear of triggers and stressors.
- Take time to practice hobbies.
High blood pressure can lead to a number of serious and irreparable conditions, but it’s possible to bring it back into the normal range. Practice healthier habits and maintain them in the long run for better blood pressure control and protection against health problems linked to high blood pressure.