Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury or mm Hg. Two pressure measurements are used: systolic (top number, when your heart beats) and diastolic (bottom number, when your heart is resting).
High blood pressure if when the force of your blood against artery walls is too high indicated by a pressure reading above 140/90 mm Hg. Unfortunately, with obesity on the rise high blood pressure is incredibly common in the U.S. with over 3 million cases per year. High blood pressure is something that can last for years or be a lifelong condition.
While there are medications to help lower blood pressure, there are also lifestyle changes you can make to lower the pressure and reduce risk of heart disease. Here’s a quick list:
Lose and Maintain a Healthy Weight
- As weight increases so does blood pressure. Losing weight is one of the most effective ways you can control and lower your blood pressure. You can reduce pressure by 1 mm Hg per 2.2 lbs. you lose.
- Waistline is also important as the more weight your body has to carry the greater your risk of high blood pressure.
- Exercising regularly is the key to success for many things and when it comes to blood pressure it can reduce it by about 5 to 8 mm Hg but you have to be consistent.
- Good workouts to do are aerobic exercises (walking, jogging, biking, swimming, etc.) or high-intensity interval training or HIIT. Consult your doctor to find the best program for you.
A Healthy Diet and Reducing Sodium
- The old saying goes “you are what you eat” and switching to a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure to around 11 mm Hg. Keeping a food diary and being more mindful when food shopping can help you stay focused and start buying more whole grains, fruits and veggies.
- Sodium is the great intensifier and when your diet consists of too much of it your blood pressure can soar. You should limit your intake to around 2,000 mg a day or less. Look to herbs and spices for adding flavor and start reading food labels to find low-sodium alternatives.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
- Not fun we know but everything in moderation right? Drinking less can lower your blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg. Like sodium, too much alcohol can significantly raise your blood pressure.
- *IMPORTANT NOTE* If you are on blood pressure/hypertension medication, alcohol can seriously reduce the effectiveness of your medication and you should consult your doctor as to whether or not you can consume alcohol.
- Chronic stress has been shown to increase blood pressure. Avoiding stress triggers and looking into meditation practices or anxiety battling techniques can have an incredibly positive influence in your life.
- While lowering your blood pressure is very much about physical health, it is always important to take into account the toll your mental health can take on your body.
Remember to always consult with your doctor about the best course of action. These are just a handful of ways you can make meaningful strides towards lowering your blood pressure. For a more extensive list and links to more information on blood pressure measurements and medications check out Healthline’s article: https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/lower-it-fast#1.-Increase-activity-and-exercise-more
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