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Six Lifestyle Changes to Help Lower Your Blood Pressure

Tuesday, April 30, 2024


Keeping your blood pressure within a healthy range is important for a number of reasons. For one, it can help to control your risk of heart attack and stroke. For another, it could prevent long-term, chronic health issues, such as kidney damage.

While people with hypertension may need treatments to control their blood pressure levels, there are ways to lower them without medication, too. Depending on your numbers, your doctor may advise the following lifestyle changes, medicine, or a combination of the two.

How to Lower Blood Pressure: Six Steps to Take

1. Eat a Nutritious Diet

Diets high in fat and cholesterol can cause fatty plaques to accumulate along your blood vessel walls, eventually narrowing passageways and forcing your heart to work harder to push blood through. But there are also foods that can help lower or manage your blood pressure.

In general, a diet with plenty of nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, and oily fish will help you stay within an ideal range. Some specific foods that have been linked to lower blood pressure include citrus fruits, pomegranates, fermented foods (think kimchi, tempeh, and kombucha), watermelon, beets, bananas, and berries.

2. Reduce Your Salt

Intake Salt has a particularly harmful effect on blood pressure. High-sodium foods provoke water retention, which increases fluid in your arteries. This higher fluid volume in turn puts more pressure on your blood vessels. To prevent this issue, try the low-sodium version of Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (also known as the DASH diet), which calls for a restricted salt intake of just 1,500 mg a day — much less than the 2,300 mg permitted by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

3. Exercise Regularly

Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger, enabling it to move blood more easily and reduce force on your arteries. You don’t have to do aggressive workouts to see a benefit: just aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, such as bicycling, gardening, or walking. Note that it could take up to three months of consistent exercise to see meaningful blood pressure changes, but results will last as long as you continue exercising.

4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity can impair kidney function, causing fluids to accumulate in your blood and thereby increasing your blood pressure. In fact, as many as 78% of cases of primary hypertension are believed to be caused by obesity. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is therefore one of the most important things you can do to control your blood pressure. The good news: eating well and exercising to control your blood pressure will help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, too.

5. Limit Alcohol

Alcohol increases blood pressure through two mechanisms. First, it triggers the release of renin, a hormone which causes blood vessels to constrict. Secondly, it also decreases the amount of fluid your body can eliminate when you urinate. Together, these factors can raise blood pressure even in people who don’t normally have hypertension. While no amount of alcohol consumption is considered beneficial to your health, be sure to drink only in moderation if you do choose to indulge. Limit yourself to one drink per day at most if you’re a woman, or two drinks per day if you’re a man.

6. Avoid Smoking

There are countless health reasons to avoid smoking, but your blood pressure is an important one. Nicotine raises your blood pressure and heart rate, so make quitting your number-one priority if you are concerned about your blood pressure and currently smoke.

Schedule an Appointment With Our Hypertension Clinic

If you have or are at risk of high blood pressure, our hypertension clinic is here to help. We offer treatment options to control your blood pressure, even if you’ve struggled to achieve a healthy range with lifestyle changes. Request an appointment online or by calling 912.691.3600.

Whether you are looking for a primary care doctor or a pediatrician, or another medical specialist, SouthCoast Health has you covered with its wide range of world-class healthcare services, available throughout the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. SouthCoast Health has 120 physicians and medical professionals in 18 locations in Savannah, Richmond Hill, Pooler, Rincon, Baxley, Hilton Head, Hinesville, and Statesboro. SouthCoast Health offers comprehensive medical services including: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Allergy and Asthma, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Eye Care, Imaging, Infectious Diseases, Nephrology, Neurology, Physical Therapy, Podiatry, Sleep Medicine, Surgery, Clinical Trial Research Studies, Diabetic Self-Management Training Sessions, Dietetic Counseling, Laboratory Services, Massage Therapy, Optical Shop, Pharmacy, and Urgent Care.

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