~ Weekly Health Advice From PMGH- High Blood Pressure Explained – Part 2 of 3 ~

Managing High Blood Pressure –
An unhealthy lifestyle will raise your blood pressure over time. The higher your blood pressure becomes the higher your risk of having a stroke or heart attack in the future. The good news is that if you have HBP, healthy changes will help to bring it down. The more you can reduce your blood pressure, the lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke will be. You will be more at risk if you smoke, are overweight, physically inactive, have diabetes, high cholesterol, are socially isolated or have depression.

You don’t have to wait until you have high blood pressure to make healthy lifestyle changes. Take a look at these tips to lower your blood pressure:

1. Eat Less Salt
Reducing the amount of salt you eat can help to manage or even avoid HBP. High amounts of salt can raise your blood pressure, so it is important to eat as little as possible. In fact, some people with HBP may be able to avoid blood pressure medicines by cutting down on salt. Most of the salt you eat is not what you add to your food, but is in prepared foods like bread, breakfast cereals and ready meals. When shopping for food, check the labels and choose low-salt options.

2. Eat more Fruit and Vegetables
Healthy eating is important in managing HBP and reducing your risk of heart disease. Enjoying a variety of foods from the different food groups is the key to healthy eating. Eating more fruit and vegetables helps to lower your blood pressure. Dried, frozen and tinned are fine, but watch out for added salt, sugar or fats.

3. Keep to a Healthy Weight
Losing weight, if you need to, will help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of health problems. The best way to lose weight is to choose more low-fat and low-calorie foods and increase your physical activity. Set yourself realistic goals. Make small changes to your eating habits and activity levels that you can keep to for life.

4. Drink Less Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily increases your blood pressure, but repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases. If you have HBP, avoid alcohol or drink alcohol only in moderation. Keep in mind that alcohol contains calories and may contribute to unwanted weight gain — a risk factor for high blood pressure. Also, alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness and increase the side effects of some medications.

5. Get More Active
Being moderately active for 30 minutes five times a week can keep your heart healthy, and can lower your blood pressure. If you can’t find 30 minutes in your day, increasing your activity by even a small amount can help. Any activity that leaves you feeling warm and slightly out of breath is ideal. Some types of exercises, such as lifting heavy weights and body presses, can raise your blood pressure. You should avoid these if your blood pressure is high. Check with your doctor before starting a new activity or increasing your level or intensity.

TIP – Take any medications exactly as prescribed. Don’t stop or change your medicine, unless your doctor advises you to.