While high blood pressure may go unnoticed because it’s often accompanied by no symptoms, once detected it can often be controlled by making lifestyle modifications (think changes in exercise and diet). It’s worth a strong attempt at trying the strategies below before asking your doctor about prescription medications.
Work with your doctor to seek out strategies to reduce the stress in your life. Consider learning more about meditation, relaxation breathing techniques, yoga and other practices that have shown to be effective ways to lower stress, and therefore lower blood pressure.
Improve Your Diet
The type of diet you eat plays a large role in high blood pressure and excessive salt is a big risk factor. One fix for unhealthy eating that is too high in salt is what is known as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. This is an eating plan that emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seeds, and low-fat dairy. Increasing the amount of potassium (found in foods such as Winter squash, sweet potatoes, white beans, and fat-free yogurt) you eat can also help to lower high blood pressure.
Reducing the amount of salt you eat daily can also play a positive role in helping to lower high blood pressure. Be sure to look at levels of salt on levels of salt listed on food labels before filling up your grocery cart. Take-home: If you have high blood pressure, aim to get 1,500 mg of salt or less per day (healthy people without hypertension should aim to get less than 2,300 mg of salt or less per day).
In an effort to reduce blood pressure, and stress, attempt to get in the habit of spending at least 30 minutes exercising most days of the week.
Drink Less Alcohol
Try to lower the amount of alcohol you drink. Heavy drinking is considered more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men.
Ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs or local support groups that may help you quit a nicotine habit if you have one.
If, after making changes to your lifestyle for a month or two, your blood pressure remains stubbornly high, your physician may recommend blood-pressure-lowering medications.