Healthy Tips to Prevent and Control High Blood Pressure
Source: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
What you choose to eat affects your chances of developing high blood pressure, or hypertension (the medical term). Recent studies show that blood pressure can be lowered by following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan…and by eating less salt (sodium). While each step alone lowers blood pressure, the combination of the eating plan and a reduced sodium intake gives the biggest benefit and may help prevent the development of high blood pressure.
Those with high blood pressure and prehypertension may benefit especially from following the DASH eating plan and reducing their sodium intake.
Blood pressure rises and falls during the day. But when it stays elevated over time, then it's called high blood pressure. High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard, and the high force of the blood flow can harm arteries and organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes. High blood pressure often has no warning signs or symptoms. Once it occurs, it usually lasts a lifetime. If uncontrolled, it can lead to heart and kidney disease, stroke, and blindness.
High blood pressure can be controlled if you take these steps:
■ Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your physician what your healthy weight should be.
■ Be moderately physically active on most days of the week. If you’ve been inactive, start slowly and build up to 30 minutes a day.
■ Follow a healthy eating plan, which includes foods lower in sodium. Eat more fruits and vegetables!
■ If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.
■ If you have high blood pressure and are prescribed medication, take it as directed.
Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day can help.
● If your blood pressure is moderately elevated, 30 minutes of brisk walking on most days a week may be enough to keep you off medication.
● If you take medication for high blood pressure, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity can make your medication work more effectively and make you feel better.
● If you don’t have high blood pressure, being physically active can help keep it that way. If you have normal blood pressure—but are not active—your chances of developing high blood pressure increase, especially as you get older or if you become overweight or obese or develop diabetes.
Getting started: Your physical activity program can be as simple as a 15-minute walk around the block each morning and evening. Gradually build up your program and set new goals to stay motivated. The important thing is to find something you enjoy, and do it safely. And remember—trying too hard at first can lead to injury and cause you to give up. If you have a chronic health problem or a family history of heart disease at an early age, be sure to talk with your doctor before launching a new physical activity program.
- Set a schedule and try to keep it.
- Get a friend or family member to join you. Motivate each other to keep it up.
- Cross-train. Alternate between different activities so you don’t strain one part of your body day after day.
- Set goals.
- Reward yourself. At the end of each month that you stay on your exercise program, reward yourself with something new—new clothes, a compact disc, a new book—something that will help you stay committed. But don't use food as a reward.
- Don’t give up! If you have a bad day, that’s OK…don’t beat yourself up. Get up the next morning and start again. Take care of YOU so you will be around to enjoy life with those you love.
Also, check out these online resources:
General Health Information
NHLBI Web site: www.nhlbi.nih.gov
DHHS Web site: www.healthfinder.gov
Diseases and Conditions A–Z Index: www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/index/html
Your Guide To Better Health Series
Your Guide Homepage: http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/yourguide featuring:
Your Guide to Lowering High Blood Pressure With DASH
Your Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol With TLC
Your Guide to Physical Activity
Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 and A Healthier You: www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines/
How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label: www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/foodlab.html
The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports: www.fitness.gov
Exercise: A Guide from NIA: http://www.niapublications.org/exercisebook/exerciseguidecomplete.pdf