Being diagnosed with hypertension certainly is a wakeup call for a lot of people – especially those who lead highly stressful lives that resulted in them having high blood pressure. Apart from taking your prescribed medication as treatment for hypertension, there are other things you can do in order to get your numbers under control. Here are 10 proven ways that can help you manage the condition effectively.
There is a relationship between weight increase and high blood pressure, so part of learning how to manage hypertension is also about keeping within a healthy weight range. In addition, being overweight might also result in sleep apnea (disrupted breathing), which further contributes to high blood pressure.
Part of managing hypertension includes buckling down and working up a sweat. Half an hour of physical activity every week can lower high blood pressure by up to 4 to 9 mm Hg. The trick is consistency – think of exercise as a maintenance treatment for hypertension because when you stop exercising, your blood pressure can go up again. Those who are already diagnosed with prehypertension will also do well to get in shape and exercise regularly to prevent the development of full-blown hypertension. Some ideal exercise routines for high blood pressure include swimming, walking, dancing, cycling, or jogging – all very easy and do not require complicated routines or know-how!
Lowering high blood pressure also includes putting the good stuff in your body – and that includes whole grains, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and fruits. Steer clear of foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats. Boost your potassium intake because this tempers the negative effects of sodium on blood pressure.
Stay away from sodium-rich foods
In line with eating healthy, a special emphasis on removing sodium from your diet is also important in the treatment for hypertension. Generally speaking, limiting sodium to about 2,300 mg per day (or even less, for good measure) is a good starting point. Those with salt sensitivity (people older than 51 years old, those diagnosed with diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or high blood pressure) should limit their intake to 1,500 mg per day. Reducing your sodium intake also includes avoiding processed foods, choosing low-sodium alternatives of favorite food items, and substituting herbs and spices instead of salt when flavoring your home cooked meals.
Ease up on the alcohol
Being mindful of the amount of alcohol consumed, is one of the most important hypertension treatment guidelines. Small amounts of alcohol especially red wine has the potential to lower blood pressure, but in itself is not a treatment for hypertension. Drinking too much alcohol will lose its protective effect. About one drink (5 oz. of wine) per day is recommended, any more than that will be counterproductive. What’s more, going above the recommended amount can also inhibit your blood pressure medication’s effectiveness.
Each stick of cigarette that you consume will elevate your blood pressure for a number of minutes soon after smoking it. Smoking is bad, period – and those who quit this nasty habit will find their blood pressure going back to normal soon after.
Taper off your caffeine habit
Whether you take coffee or tea, the energy you get from caffeine kicks can raise your blood pressure significantly by about 10 mm Hg. Habitual coffee drinkers may experience smaller increases. To find out if (and how much) caffeine increases your blood pressure, conduct a blood pressure check after consuming a caffeinated beverage and manage your intake appropriately.
Make a conscious effort to reduce stress in your life
Treatment for hypertension is never complete without a reduction of stress, which not only includes stopping the bad habits mentioned previously but also really taking stock of the stressful things in life (relationships, work stress, etc.). You may rethink your working hours or aim to set aside time with your family / spouse to improve your relationships. When things are ‘unmovable’, the best way to cope is to change your expectations. Lighten your mental load by reducing the amount of stuff you think you can control and let others be. Also engage in relaxation techniques that will help you feel better: aromatherapy, yoga, breathing exercises, or regular trips to the spa. These little indulgences may well be the key to keep you from developing high blood pressure.
Always monitor your blood pressure and schedule regular visits to your doctor
It is essential that you do regular monitoring so that if there is a sudden spike, you can make a conscious effort to relax or do something to lower it. There might be a need to further step up your efforts in terms of lifestyle changes to address the sudden high blood pressures. Blood pressure monitors are easy to come across, with a variety of models available in most pharmacies. Also, regularly visiting your doctor will ensure that you are indeed able to control your blood pressure within manageable levels. If this is under control, then you might only need to see your doctor every six or twelve months.
A supportive set of friends and family will greatly contribute in your treatment for hypertension. While most of the efforts will be of your own doing, it really helps when you have companions in exercising, healthy eating, blood pressure monitoring, quiting smoking and more. If you are struggling with the lifestyle changes, these people will also be your cheerleaders to motivate you as you adjust to your new, healthier lifestyle.
Managing hypertension effectively requires a new approach to your lifestyle, and may take learning and unlearning some good and bad habits. However, armed with the desire to stay heathy for you and your loved ones - and the right support system - you can surely secure a bright future without the devastating consequences of high blood pressure.