The guidelines that define what qualifies as high blood pressure changed in 2017. Now, if you’re blood pressure is above 120/80 mm Hg, it’s considered elevated, and if it’s 130/80 mm Hg, it’s classified as Stage 1 hypertension and should be treated. These guidelines are based on recommendations from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.
With these changes, more than 45% of American adults have high blood pressure, which dramatically raises your risk of developing cardiovascular complications such as stroke or heart disease. There are some fairly simple steps you can take that may lower your blood pressure.
Adding as little as 30 minutes of exercise per day three or four times each week can have a nearly miraculous impact on your overall health. It may feel like you just don’t have time, but finding time to do an enjoyable activity a couple of hours a week is much better than being forced to take time out of your schedule to recover from a cardiovascular event.
One of the keys to sticking with an exercise program is to find something you enjoy doing. If you absolutely hate jogging, don’t start out with the goal of running a marathon. There are so many different ways to add movement to your life.
If you enjoyed group sports during school, look for an adult league in your community. If you love to swim, consider finding a gym with a pool. The options are nearly limitless.
It’s also important to create a balanced exercise program that improves your cardiovascular health, your overall strength, and your flexibility. If you have questions about what might work best, talk to your doctor at Apex Medical Center. Our staff is happy to help, and can provide important guidance for your specific circumstances.
A balanced, nutritious diet can do more than help manage your blood pressure. Getting the nutrients you need can help you feel more energetic and avoiding empty calories can help you lose any extra weight you may have.
Aim for a diet that is rich in lean proteins and includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid things like sugary drinks, sweets, and junk food such as chips and cookies.
Eat less sodium; this is a deceptively simple statement. Just not using the salt shaker isn’t enough. Instead you’ll need to be a master label-reader.
Sodium is present, sometimes in surprisingly large quantities, in most processed foods, including bread, rolls, many sauces and condiments, as well as canned and frozen foods. Get in the habit of checking the sodium content of the foods you eat and consume accordingly.
Sometimes it seems like everyone’s default mode is stressed out. Living with perpetually high levels of stress can wreak havoc on your body, and high blood pressure is a common result.
There are many approaches to reducing stress, so if the idea of medication isn’t appealing, don’t worry. There are other things that might work.
Simply scheduling time for an activity you enjoy may be an important first step. If you feel relaxed every time you spend time with a friend, start building that time into your schedule. Have lunch with a friend once a week, or plan a walk with friends.
Enroll in a yoga or tai chi class and you can reduce stress while also getting fitter. Even if all you have time to do is sit still and think about how you’re breathing for five minutes a day, you’re doing something to lower your stress level.
Take your medication
If your doctor has prescribed blood pressure medicine, take it as directed. If you have concerns about it, or you don’t like taking it, talk to your doctor at your next appointment, but don’t stop taking your medication.
According to the American College of Cardiology, high blood pressure nearly doubles your risk of cardiovascular complications. If you can lower that risk through simple changes to your normal habits, it’s worth doing.
If you’d like to learn more about high blood pressure and how you can avoid it or manage it, book an appointment at Apex Medical Center online or by phone today.