High blood pressure is a common medical condition that can have life-threatening ramifications. Today, an estimated 116 million Americans — nearly half of the general population — have hypertension. Remarkably about one-third of the people who have high blood pressure aren’t being treated for the condition because they don't even know they have it.
The good news is that high blood pressure is manageable. In this blog, the team at Cardio Metabolic Institute offers its insights on six changes you can make to manage high blood pressure.
Why healthy blood pressure is important
Your blood pressure will be taken hundreds of times in your lifetime. Have you ever wondered what’s being measured and why normal blood pressure is important?
Every tissue, cell, and organ in your body relies on a supply of nutrient-rich blood to perform its particular function. Pressure creates the force to pump blood from the heart to the lungs, where it gets oxygen, and then creates sufficient force to transport the oxygenated blood through your arteries to the rest of your body.
The rub is that your body needs sufficient force to do so but not excessive force that taxes your heart. When a provider takes your blood pressure, the numbers correspond to the force of the circulating blood.
The top number, or systolic pressure, measures the force against the walls of the arteries every time your heart beats. The bottom number, or diastolic pressure, measures the force on the walls of the arteries in between heartbeats.
What you can do to manage your blood pressure
What’s great about lifestyle changes that help stave off high blood pressure or help you better manage it is that the strategies literally feed into each other. Essentially, once you do one, the others tend to fall into place.
1. Eat healthy, balanced meals
At the very top of the list is good nutrition. Balanced meals with lots of vegetables and fruits go a long way in supporting healthy blood pressure. Cut back on processed and fried, fatty, and salty foods. Think lean protein and whole grains. Ditch the chips and instead enjoy some heart-healthy nuts like almonds or walnuts.
2. Limit salt intake
Similarly, reducing salt in your diet helps keep your blood pressure in check. When we’re talking about salt intake, we’re not simply talking about limiting the salt you add to your food before eating it.
Surprisingly up to 75% of the salt people consume is found in processed foods like soups, tomato sauce, condiments, canned foods, and prepared mixes. Get in the habit of checking labels and choosing options with less salt or those marked “low sodium.”
3. Exercise regularly
Being active and getting regular exercise is also a good way to manage your blood pressure. Getting off the sofa and away from long periods of being sedentary also prevents you from raiding the pantry for your favorite chips.
If you’re a rookie when it comes to exercising, talk to your doctor about what’s safe and appropriate and for your current fitness level. You don’t have to train for a marathon; doing simple things like taking a 25-minute walk every day can make a huge difference.
4. Maintain a healthy, ideal weight
Once you start eating better and getting some regular exercise, you’re well on your way to maintaining an ideal weight. Being overweight or obese makes your heart work harder to pump blood, which raises your blood pressure. Even modest weight loss can help greatly.
5. Say no to tobacco use
Tobacco use is counterproductive in two ways when it comes to your blood pressure. First, smoking can damage your blood vessels and your heart. Second, nicotine raises blood pressure and the carbon monoxide reduces the capacity of oxygen that your blood can carry, making the process of getting oxygenated blood to your organs much less efficient.
6. Avoid excessive alcohol
If you’re taking medication for high blood pressure, drinking alcohol may alter the effectiveness of the drug by either increasing side effects or, even more troublesome, affecting the level of the medication in your body. Also, alcohol tends to have a lot of calories and leads to weight gain, undoing any good work you’ve put into maintaining a healthy weight.
Your partners in wellness
At Cardio Metabolic Institute, our team of highly skilled registered doctors, dieticians, and fitness experts can help you manage your high blood pressure. We know that making lifestyle changes can be challenging, so we even offer personalized health coaching to help you reach or maintain optimal wellness.
If you’re concerned about your blood pressure, contact Cardio Metabolic Institute in Somerset, Monroe Township, Edison, and East Brunswick, New Jersey. Book an evaluation by clicking the “Book online” button or by calling today.