How to Prevent High Blood Pressure
Throughout your life, you have likely heard about the importance of keeping blood pressure at a healthy level. Although it is one of the most important health measurements, many people still don’t know what blood pressure is or why it’s critical for their well-being.
Blood pressure refers to the force of blood against artery walls. A person’s heart pumps and forces blood into the arteries of the body and a normal amount of pressure helps blood flow to the body’s organs and tissues. Blood pressure rises when a heart beats and falls between heartbeats.
High blood pressure is a problem because it makes the heart and blood vessels work harder. It can damage arterial tissues and encourage the formation of bad cholesterol and plaque in artery walls.
As this plaque accumulates, arteries continue to become narrower and end up raising blood pressure even more. Unfortunately, this harmful cycle can keep feeding off itself and lead to serious health problems such as heart attacks and stroke.
Although over 1 in 3 Americans has high blood pressure, many of these people don’t even know it! High blood pressure often goes undetected and is often referred to as the “silent killer” by medical professionals.
Thankfully, there are steps people can take to prevent or treat high blood pressure and protect their health. Keep reading to learn about heart-healthy changes you can make to do exactly that!
Cut Back on Sodium
Cutting back on sodium intake is a great way to boost your cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure. Over time, too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and narrow blood vessels. This can make it harder for the body to send much-needed blood and oxygen to the body’s vital organs.
Thankfully, even a small reduction can make a difference for those that have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure. On a daily basis, it’s a good idea to keep sodium levels to 1,500 mg or less. To get started, try to be more conscious of the amount of sodium in your diet. Look at food labels and examine the sodium content in packaged or processed foods.
When cooking meals from scratch, try to substitute herbs and spices for salt wherever possible. Our taste buds can and will adjust to sodium if we gradually transition them to lower levels.
Staying Consistently Active
Aerobic exercises such as walking or bike riding are very good for heart health and blood pressure. These activities help oxygen circulate throughout our blood and increase our heartbeat. The key is to stay consistent and committed to living an active lifestyle, even if you fall off the horse sometimes.
Aim for two to three hours of moderately intense aerobic exercise every week, or alternatively, an hour of vigorously intense aerobic exercise. By staying consistent, these activities can actually make your heart stronger and capable of pumping blood with less effort. This leads to less force on your arteries and lower blood pressure levels.
Eating Well & Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Eating a high-quality diet, filled with healthy fruits and vegetables can do wonders for people with high blood pressure. There is actually a special diet for combating hypertension, known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
It encourages people to cut back on sodium and eat nutrient-rich foods that help reduce high blood pressure levels, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Potassium helps lessen the effect of sodium on blood pressure levels and can be found in many different fruits and vegetables.
Staying at a healthy body weight is one of the best ways to keep hypertension at bay. Unfortunately, blood pressure often increases with bodyweight, which makes it important to try and lose excess weight. Consistently staying active and eating nutrient-dense foods can make it much easier to reach this goal.
Don’t Drink or Smoke Regularly
If you have high blood pressure it’s definitely not a good idea to drink or smoke regularly. Both activities raise blood pressure levels and the chances of suffering from either a heart attack or stroke. For those that smoke regularly, quitting can significantly lower their risk of developing heart disease.
Drinking too much can have a similar negative effect on blood pressure. Men should aim to limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day, and women should aim for no more than one drink per day.
In conclusion, there are many great ways to prevent hypertension. For those that already have high blood pressure, steps can be taken to reduce their levels through healthy lifestyle changes. Make sure to visit your doctor regularly to deal with any complications you may be experiencing. Cutting back on sodium intake, consistently participating in aerobic exercises, and maintaining a healthy body weight are all great ways to keep your blood pressure levels in a healthy range.