It’s well known that high blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, but the dangers of this condition often go unaddressed until it’s too late. In fact, unless you’ve received a diagnosis of high blood pressure, it probably isn’t something you think about too frequently.
However, by taking steps to maintain your healthy blood pressure before it becomes a hazard to your health, you can reduce your risks even further and ensure high blood pressure never becomes part of your life. Here’s how:
1. Get Checked
If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked in the last year, it’s time to make an appointment. The only way to ensure your blood pressure is healthy is to confirm with your doctor, which will help you know how to proceed.
2. Move It
You already know how good exercising is for your overall health, but did you also know it can help lower your blood pressure? When you exercise, your body releases nitric acid, which helps your blood vessels open up. Plus, exercising can also help you control other factors that contribute to high blood pressure, like weight gain and stress. If you’re new to exercising, talk to your doctor about the safest activities and aim for 30 minutes per day.
3. Clean Up Your Diet
Steer clear of foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol and eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy. For a more specific dietary plan, check out the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
4. Slim Down
Carrying extra weight causes your blood pressure to go up, so taking steps to lose a few pounds can help those numbers go back down. Even if you’re only 10 or so pounds overweight, it could be causing your blood pressure to increase. Of course, the best ways to lose weight are already included on this list: Clean up your diet and start an exercise regime.
5. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
If you currently have more than one drink per day on a regular basis, it’s time to cut back. Alcohol not only fills your diet with empty calories and contributes to weight gain, it also can directly raise your blood pressure.
6. Quit Smoking
There are dozens of great reasons to quit smoking and lowering your blood pressure is just one of them. One of the harmful effects of nicotine is that it constricts your blood vessels, which causes your blood pressure to rise.
7. Cut Back on Salt
A diet high in salt can contribute to high blood pressure, so cutting back on your sodium intake can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure. A great place to start is by limiting processed foods, which have notoriously high sodium levels.
With these seven steps, you can create long-term healthy habits that help you maintain a safe blood pressure level.