This year’s new blood pressure guidelines mean that many people are suddenly learning that they have hypertension. What does it mean? Why the change?
We have known for years that risk of heart disease and stroke goes up with increasing blood pressure, even below the 120/80 threshold that we call normal. The new guidelines are meant to stress the importance of lifestyle changes for even mildly high blood pressure.
Here are nine things you should do if your blood pressure is high, but not so high that you need blood pressure medicine:
- Eat less sodium: Read labels – most sodium comes from prepared foods. In fact the number one source of sodium in the American diet is bread and rolls.
- Eat more potassium: many fruits and vegetables are great sources of potassium including oranges and bananas.
- Know your fats: olive oil, canola oil, and fatty fish have healthy fats. Limit saturated fat and avoid transfat completely to protect your heart.
- Quit smoking, if you need help – SmokefreePhilly.org has resources to help.
- Get active. PhillyPowered.org can help with ideas and inspiration.
- Lose a little weight: losing 5-10 pounds can help to lower your blood pressure.
- Limit your alcohol to no more than one drink daily for women and two for men.
- Lower your stress level: for some great tips, see: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/7-ways-to-keep-stress-and-blood-pressure-down.
- Sleep more: See: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/too-early-to-get-up-too-late-to-get-back-to-sleep for tips on healthy sleep.
Make sure to get your blood pressure rechecked on schedule. And if you’ve followed these tips, hopefully it will be back down to normal.