High blood pressure, or hypertension, can play a contributing factor in many major health issues, including strokes, heart disease and diabetes. It’s thought that around 30% of people suffer from high blood pressure, but many remain unaware because of the lack of obvious symptoms. In order to stay healthy, it’s important to get your blood pressure under control.
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Lower Your Blood Pressure With These Top Tips
1. Lower Your Salt Intake
A diet high in salt is one of the leading causes of high blood pressure.
An adult should be consuming no more than 6 grams of salt per day, so make use of the nutritional information printed on food packaging and adjust your intake accordingly. Avoid adding extra salt to food as you’re cooking and steer clear of products with high sodium content, such as bacon, cheese, breakfast cereals and processed ready meals.
2. Shed A Few Pounds
Your weight and your blood pressure are closely linked. Generally speaking, as your weight goes up, your heart and cardiovascular system have to work harder, causing an increase in blood pressure. Even a small amount of weight loss can have a positive effect and cause your blood pressure to drop.
3. Eat A Healthy Diet
A healthy, balanced diet is a key aspect to maintaining low blood pressure. Avoid foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat and stick to fresh fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy.
Another option is to supplement your diet with foods high in potassium, such as bananas and green vegetables. Potassium is important because it lessens the damaging effects of sodium, and it’s recommended that adults have a daily intake of 3.5 grams.
4. Cut Back On The Caffeine
Some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others, but studies have found that drinking three or four cups of coffee per day can increase blood pressure. In order to check whether you’re caffeine-sensitive, try measuring your blood pressure before and a few minutes after drinking a cup of coffee.
If there’s a noticeable difference, consider switching to de-caf and cutting back on other caffeinated drinks such as tea and cola.
5. Sort Out Your Sleep
If your sleep is disrupted by loud snoring and irregular breathing, there’s a chance you may be suffering from a condition called sleep apnea.
Recent research has shown that half of people suffering from sleep apnea also have high blood pressure. This is because most sleep apnea sufferers have increased levels of aldosterone, a hormone known to cause hypertension.
Furthermore, disrupted sleep patterns can cause tiredness and stress, which also increases blood pressure. Fortunately, sleep apnea can be treated without using medications, and improving your sleep may lead to a lowering of your blood pressure.
6. Stub Out The Cigarettes
Although smoking does not directly cause hypertension, it is known that blood pressure rises temporarily after each cigarette, meaning that smoking over the course of a day can lead to a constantly high blood pressure.
Furthermore, the dangers of smoking are increased for people who suffer from high blood pressure, as smoking narrows the arteries and causes a greater risk of heart disease.
Quitting smoking has many health benefits, which in turn can help lower blood pressure.
7. Take Time To De-Stress
Everyone gets stressed occasionally, but too much stress or anxiety can lead to high blood pressure.
The first step in combating this is to identify what is causing the stress, then attempt to reduce it, either permanently or temporarily.
Activities such as yoga, pilates or meditation can help reduce stress, but something as simple as a quiet walk in the sunshine or thirty minutes spent listening to your favourite music can also have a positive effect.
8. Exercise Regularly
Whether it’s swimming, cycling, power-walking or any other kind of physical activity, one sure-fire way of keeping your blood pressure down is to exercise regularly.
Fitting a thirty-minute period of moderate aerobic activity into your daily routine can show noticeable results in just a few weeks. For people who have led sedentary lifestyles, it’s important to start slowly.
Short bursts of intensive exercise can put strain on your heart and actually increase your blood pressure, so remember to gradually ease into your exercise routine and take things easy at first.
9. Moderate Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol can have both a positive and negative effect on your blood pressure.
Studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption, defined as one drink per day for women and two drinks for men, can cause blood pressure to drop. However, drinking alcohol in excess can have the opposite effect, raising blood pressure significantly and possibly causing other health problems.
Avoid binge drinking and moderate your alcohol consumption to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
10. Keep Tabs on Your Blood Pressure
Measuring your own blood pressure using a home blood pressure monitor can be a useful tool in keeping it under control.
Learning when and where your blood pressure rises or drops can help you adjust your routine accordingly. Furthermore, knowing your blood pressure and tracking its status can help you stay motivated and inspire you to make the lifestyle changes needed to maintain a healthy blood pressure.