About half of Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension), putting them at risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, dementia, and other health problems. Fortunately, blood pressure can be managed, and lifestyle changes can help.
At I & B Medical Associates in Miami, Florida, our providers help patients reduce high blood pressure and its risks with treatment plans tailored to each person’s unique needs. Here’s how changing a few habits could help you manage your hypertension.
Smoking has declined in recent years, but 13% of Americans still light up, according to the CDC. Every year, smoking is linked to about a half-million deaths, making it the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
Smoking damages your blood vessels, making it harder for blood to circulate. As a result, your heart needs to work harder — and your blood pressure increases. Quitting smoking benefits your health in lots of other ways too.
The American Lung Association offers tips to help you kick the habit.
When you’re overweight, your heart must work harder to pump your blood. Losing weight is one of the most effective ways to manage your blood pressure, and you don’t have to lose a lot to make a difference — just 5-10 pounds can help.
Being more physically active can help you lose weight. But that’s not the only way it can improve your blood pressure.
Regular exercise strengthens your heart, so it pumps more effectively. That means less strain on your blood vessels and less force (or pressure) needed to pump your blood. Walking, biking, swimming — even gardening and housework — can help.
Most people know that high levels of sodium (like table salt) raise blood pressure. What many people don’t know is that many foods contain a lot of sodium — not just convenience foods, but even staples, like some bread and cereals.
Also, avoid unhealthy fats and excess sugars, which can increase your risk of putting on extra pounds. Fats increase your risk of high cholesterol, another contributor to hypertension.
One smart way to control your intake of sodium, unhealthy fats, and sugars (or carbohydrates) is to read food labels. Or, take some time to learn about the DASH diet, an eating plan designed to support healthy blood pressure.
Reducing stress is easier said than done — for some people, it’s harder than losing weight or quitting smoking. But it’s essential if you want to control your blood pressure.
Stress releases hormones that increase your heart rate and, in turn, elevate your blood pressure. This is part of the body’s natural “fight or flight” response designed to keep us from danger — but when it happens regularly, it can cause chronic elevations in your blood pressure.
Yoga, tai chi, and mindfulness exercises are good ways to reduce stress. You can also relax by practicing deep breathing or a special breathing technique called square (or box) breathing. You can see the simple instructions here.
Breathing exercises are great because you can do them anywhere — even when you’re stuck in traffic. Or carve out some “me” time from your daily schedule to do something you enjoy.
Adopting these habits can go a long way toward keeping your blood pressure under control — and benefiting your health in other ways too. To learn how we can help you manage your hypertension, call 786-321-2399 or book a visit online with I & B Medical Associates today.