10 steps to high blood pressure control
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a widespread problem in America today, with about 1 in 4 adults having it. Many times, high blood pressure goes undiagnosed, since there may be few or no symptoms. But high blood pressure is serious. High blood pressure control can help prevent health conditions, including kidney disease, heart disease and stroke.
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, don’t ignore it. Instead, learn what you can do to improve your health and control high blood pressure. Here are some steps you can take for high blood pressure control to keep your blood pressure within normal ranges:
1. The first step to high blood pressure control is to know your blood pressure. Get your blood pressure checked. If it is high, your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower it. Remember to check in with your health care provider on a regular basis so that your blood pressure can be monitored and your treatment adjusted as needed.
2. Smoking can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. If you currently are a smoker, find a program in your community that can help you quit. Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for high blood pressure control.
3. Watch your weight. Talk to your health care team to find out what is a healthy weight range for you, and then take steps to achieve your weight goal. For additional support, you may want to consult a dietitian. A dietitian can offer you valuable tips and help you develop a healthy eating plan to help with high blood pressure control.
4. Develop a taste for fruits and veggies. Whole grains and low-fat dairy foods are also good choices for those who are concerned about their blood pressure. For people who also have chronic kidney disease and are following a kidney disease diet, you may want to check with your doctor or dietitian about consuming whole grains, dairy and certain high potassium fruits and vegetables. Watch how much soda and junk food you’re consuming. For high blood pressure control, try to limit or eliminate foods such as these that have empty calories.
5. Move your body. Exercise is vitally important for overall health including high blood pressure control. Exercise can strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system, improve circulation, help you feel more energetic, improve muscle tone, strengthen bones and reduce stress. To support healthy blood pressure, aerobic activity is usually recommended. Schedule at least 30 minutes most days for getting some moderate aerobic exercise. Remember too that even simple changes, such as taking the stairs rather than the elevator or parking the car farther from the store can help you add more movement to your daily routine. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
6. Skip the salt. Too much salt will only aggravate your condition. For high blood pressure control, be aware of the amount of sodium (salt) you’re consuming and be sure to limit it to no more than 2,400 mg per day. Read labels, limit fast food and avoid processed foods such as canned or frozen meals, regular canned soups, deli meats, bacon and pepperoni. Remove the salt shaker from your table and replace it with healthy spices and condiments. You may also want to ask your dietitian or doctor about other ways to limit sodium in the diet.
7. Don’t drink too much alcohol. An occasional drink is okay, but don’t overdo it. If you’re a woman, don’t have more than one drink daily. For men, it’s suggested that the maximum amount each day not exceed two drinks. Alcohol can make blood pressure rise, so for high blood pressure control it’s recommended you stick with these guidelines.
8. Limit the amount of caffeine you ingest to help with high blood pressure control. Remember it’s not just coffee and tea — sodas and chocolate can be loaded with caffeine also. For people on a kidney disease diet, chocolate and colas may be limited due to high phosphorus levels.
9. When you’re feeling stressed out, your blood pressure often rises to unhealthy levels so, for high blood pressure control, find a way to combat stress. Aerobic exercise is one way to relax and lower blood pressure. Yoga is also known as an ideal tool for helping folks feel calmer, as is meditation.
10. Your doctor may recommend that you monitor your blood pressure at home. If so, be sure to keep accurate records so you can track your blood pressure between doctor appointments and then report the results at your next office visit.
Following these recommendations for high blood pressure control can result in significant improvements in blood pressure levels. Begin today to make the lifestyle and dietary changes you need to maintain healthy blood pressure and prevent or slow the progression of kidney disease.
Related articles on DaVita.com