Treatment for high blood pressure is much easier than you might think in most cases. It is vitally important that you keep your blood pressure under control. In fact, it is so vital to your overall health that researchers adjusted the guidelines in 2003 to reflect the concern researchers and health care professionals had regarding the dangers of high blood pressure.
The new guidelines lowered the normal blood pressure range to less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic, with prehypertension set at a range of 120-139 and 80-89 systolic/diastolic. If you have been diagnosed with blood pressure higher than the guidelines indicate are healthy, it is critical you take a look at how you can change your lifestyle in order to lower your numbers. If that doesn’t work, you should check with your health care provider to see what other options you have.
Treatment for high blood pressure may surprise you. Among the lifestyle changes you should consider making are:
- Following an appropriate diet plan and
- Getting a moderate amount of exercise each day.
Here are some specific lifestyle changes that you can make to lower your blood pressure:
Reduce salt and sodium – Sodium is a major factor that can significantly raise your blood pressure, and it’s virtually hidden in many of the foods we eat today. Packaged foods, canned soups, and frozen dinners are especially salty and can cause higher blood pressure. Be sure to read the labels of canned or frozen products you purchase and limit your sodium intake from 1500 mg to 2300 per day if you are healthy. Check with your doctor to make sure what your intake limit should be for your age and health.
DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet – The DASH diet is highly recommended by most health care experts and is quickly growing in popularity among the masses. It was formulated specifically for people who suffer from high blood pressure and includes a diet of vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products and whole grains. You should also get plenty of potassium and reduce your intake of saturated fats.
Water – Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated and to flush your system of unwanted or unnecessary salt. If you allow yourself to become dehydrated, your may feel tired and weak.
Smoking and alcohol – Tobacco causes hardening of the arteries and alcohol may raise your blood pressure. If you smoke, consult your doctor about a plan to quit, and limit your alcohol intake to one or two drinks per day or less.
Exercise – Along with reducing the amount of salt in your diet, daily exercise is one of the best ways to treat high blood pressure. You do not need to engage in rigorous workouts – a simple daily walk should be sufficient for most people.
Weight loss – Even if you’re slightly overweight, losing unwanted pounds may help to lower your blood pressure. Following the proper diet and daily exercise guidelines will more than likely cause you to lose weight without taking unnecessary risks.
Stress – Too much stress in your life is a major concern if you have high blood pressure. Exercise sometimes helps reduce stress as does relaxation and deep breathing techniques. Strive for at least a half hour of physical activity per day and get plenty of rest.
Lifestyle changes you can make
Lifestyle changes can certainly help to keep your blood pressure under control, but it may not be enough. If your blood pressure remains higher than your doctor thinks it should be, he or she may prescribe a medication to control it.
Diuretics, or water pills, are among the medications that are usually prescribed for high blood pressure. They help your kidneys flush out the sodium and water in your system and reduce blood volume. Diuretics may also reduce your chances of having a stroke or heart failure – especially if you’re 80 or older.
Beta blockers are also effective in reducing blood pressure. They serve to open blood vessels so that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. There are other medications such as enzyme inhibitors, receptor blockers and channel blockers that may also help to lower blood pressure.
A combination of drugs may be in order to more effectively reduce your blood pressure, and after the high blood pressure is under control, your health care provider may suggest that you take an aspirin on a daily basis to lessen the risk of cardiovascular problems.