Tips for Managing Your High Blood Pressure at Home
If you have high blood pressure, you should have already talked to your doctor about the best ways for you to manage your condition. They may have prescribed certain medications to help, but it’s important that you don’t rely solely on the medication to do the job for you; you must also make certain lifestyle changes to effectively manage your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Keep reading for some tips on managing your high blood pressure at home.
Be More Active
Physical activity is key to a healthy heart. You should aim to exercise between 30 and 60 minutes a day, and try to incorporate strength training at least 2 days a week. Not only does physical activity help to lower your blood pressure, but it’s also been shown to improve your mental health as well. If it’s been a while since you’ve exercised, make sure to start gradually, increasing your time and/or distance each day to avoid injuring yourself.
Adjust Your Diet
Diets high in saturated fats are often a major contributing factor to high blood pressure. So, it stands to reason that adjusting your diet is one of the key components of managing your blood pressure effectively. Most doctors will recommend the DASH diet, which stands for the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet includes:
- Increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Eliminating foods high in saturated fats (e.g., full-fat dairy products, fatty meats, and processed foods)
- Eating more low-fat dairy products, nuts, fish, and lean meats for your protein intake
Following the DASH diet can lower your blood pressure by as much as 11 mm Hg systolic. You may also want to consider cutting back on desserts and sweetened drinks like juices and sodas.
Reduce Sodium Intake
For some people, too much sodium can cause your body to retain fluid, which leads to a sudden increase in blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends that you limit your sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg a day—that’s only a teaspoon of table salt! So, put down that salt shaker, and avoid adding salt to your foods; flavor foods with herbs and spices instead. Avoid processed foods, which are typically loaded with sodium, and always read food labels so you can choose low-sodium options.
Lose Those Extra Pounds
Luckily, this adjustment will likely be a natural byproduct of becoming more active and adjusting your diet. For those with high blood pressure, losing weight isn’t about going down a pant size—it’s about a healthier heart. Weight and blood pressure are directly connected, and dropping that weight will drop your blood pressure numbers as well. It’s especially important to lose that visceral fat (the extra fat around your waist) to help lower blood pressure.
Of course, this is easier said than done. We live in a fast-paced, high-stress world, and it can be difficult to step back from the demands on your time and find ways to relax. But doing so is essential to your health—and not just for those with high blood pressure. Start by identifying your stress triggers, then find ways that you can manage your responses to those triggers.
Take up hobbies and habits that reduce your stress in a healthy way, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation. If you struggle with severe stress or anxiety, consider speaking to a therapist.
Monitor Your Numbers Daily
It’s difficult to manage high blood pressure if you’re not monitoring it. It’s important that you take your blood pressure on a daily basis (though your doctor may ask you to do it several times a day, in some cases). Make sure you have a reliable home blood pressure monitor and cuff that you can use regularly. Record your numbers so you can track the trends in your blood pressure. If you notice the occasional spike, this could simply be due to immediate stressors in your environment; the important thing is to notice an overall downwards trend in your blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about what specific numbers they would like to see on your charts.
If you need a home blood pressure monitor and cuff, call or stop by a Medical Xpress location or Arlington Medical Supply to see what we have in stock. We’ll be happy to find you a reliable system that you can use to effectively monitor and manage your blood pressure, and ensure that you understand how to use it. We look forward to seeing you soon!