High blood pressure? How to help reduce it

December 04, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Hearts

Often referred to as the “silent killer,” high blood pressure contributes to heart disease, heart attack, stroke and other health problems.

High blood pressure occurs when your blood pressure, or the force of the blood pushing against your artery walls, is consistently high, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Nearly half of adult Americans have high blood pressure, though many don’t even know it.

The best way to figure out if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked. Your doctor can do this during a routine office visit.

If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, try these 10 things to help reduce it:

  1. Work with your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe medications to help lower your blood pressure. Be sure to take those as directed and make your doctor aware of any changes in your health.

  2. Know your numbers. Have your blood pressure checked regularly and know your readings. A normal reading is considered 120/80 or less. Your blood pressure is considered elevated when the top number (systolic pressure) is between 120-129 mm/Hg and your bottom number (diastolic pressure) is less than 80. High blood pressure readings start when your blood pressure readings are in excess of 130/80. A chart showing the various stages of high blood pressure can be found on the AHA website.

  3. Lose excess weight. Blood pressure increases as your weight increases. Being overweight can also lead to sleep apnea, which can also increase your blood pressure. For every 2.2 pounds you lose, you can drop your blood pressure by up to 1 mm/Hg, according to Mayo Clinic.

  4. Exercise. The AHA recommends getting 150 minutes of exercise in each week (or about 30 minutes five days a week). Regular exercise can help lower your blood pressure by up to 5 to 8 mm/Hg. Consider walking, jogging or bicycling to stay active. Strength training twice a week can also help reduce your blood pressure.

  5. Adopt a healthy diet. Choose a low-fat, low-sodium diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Opt for lean meats and avoid processed foods. See what a heart-healthy menu looks like here.

  6. Be mindful of your sodium intake. The AHA recommends no more than 2,300 mg a day and an ideal limit of 1,500 mg daily. Limit processed foods as those tend to be higher in sodium content and try to avoid adding salt to your food. A quarter teaspoon of salt has about 575 mg of sodium. Cutting back your sodium could lead to a decrease of 5 to 6 mm/Hg.

  7. Read food labels. The best way to make sure you are following heart-healthy guidelines is to read your food labels and check the contents for sodium and saturated fats.

  8. Quit smoking. Did you know that your blood pressure increases for many minutes after smoking? Quitting smoking not only lowers your blood pressure but also has many other health benefits.

  9. Reduce stress. Yes, sometimes that’s easier said than done. However, high stress levels can negatively affect your health. If you can, avoid things that trigger stress or find positive ways to deal with those stress triggers. Plan your day to focus on a few top priorities each day. Also, try practicing gratitude, making time for activities you enjoy and getting enough sleep each day.

  10. Get support. Work with your doctor to discuss changes you can make to benefit your health. Talk to family members about the changes you are making and ask for their support in your journey.

Your heart is in good hands when you choose us for cardiovascular care. Learn more about our high-quality heart care.

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