Blood pressure, or the measurement of how forcefully blood pushes against artery walls, is a good thing, but only when it’s kept in check. It gets bad when it’s too high. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can damage arterial walls and over time can lead to significant health problems like heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. The good news is If you have high blood pressure, there are many ways to reduce it.
- Eat for your health
- Reduce the sodium in your diet
- Exercise and Lose Weight
- Stop Smoking and Drink Responsibly
- Sleep Well
- Get medical care
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by 8 to 14 points. The overall diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, encourages low fat dairy and lean meats, emphasizes oily fish, and tries to keep the calories from fat under 30%.
Reducing your salt and sodium intake is a proven and consistent way to reduce blood pressure regardless of age, race, or gender. The first step is to reduce the amount of salt you add to your foods before, during, and after cooking. Next, target high sodium foods like fast foods, canned soups, canned meats, chips, cured meats, frozen meals, pizza, deli meats, and many savory snack foods.
To reduce blood pressure, moderate to vigorous exercise is recommended for 30 minutes three to four times per week. Exercise reduces the heart rate, but it also helps promote weight loss. Weight loss can also reduce blood pressure by reducing the demand put on the heart.
Not smoking, whether by quitting or by not starting at all, is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle. Smoking can cause your arteries to narrow, which can affect your blood pressure by putting more stress on the arterial walls. Regular alcohol intake can also raise blood pressure. In addition to alcohol, drinking caffeine can also raise blood pressure. Caffeine (from coffee, tea, and energy drinks) should be kept to a moderate amount or less.
Good sleep habits are linked to a number of health benefits, including reduced obesity, less accidents, better immunity, improved mental acuity, improved appearance, and reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Studies show that getting 7 hours of sleep a night is associated with the lowest blood pressure, while 5 hours of snoozing is associated with the worst. The exact link between sleep and blood pressure is unknown, but one theory is that stress hormones are higher in people who get less sleep.
For some people, the above five ways to reduce blood pressure may not be enough. Doctors have clear guidelines they use to determine if medication is warranted for high blood pressure. The only way to know if your high blood pressure level requires medication is to see your healthcare provider. Antihypertensive medications need to be prescribed by a doctor or nurse practitioner, but they can be very effective.
For those with high blood pressure, working to achieve normal blood pressure levels is extremely important. High blood pressure can be dangerous, and even deadly. If you have high blood pressure, consider watching your diet, reducing your sodium intake, exercising, shedding excess pounds, stopping smoking, reducing your alcohol and caffeine intake, getting enough sleep, and visiting your doctor to improve your blood pressure. For those who have tried to lose weight in order to reduce their blood pressure but have failed, bariatric surgery may be an option for you. If you are obese and have high blood pressure, you may qualify for gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or lap band surgery to promote weight loss.
The above is offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a Boca Raton area board certified surgeon specializing in advanced laparoscopic and obesity surgery. His gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients often find that their successful weight loss helps in other areas of their health, including reducing blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, improving blood sugar, improving breathing, and reducing the need for medications and thus alleviating the burden of their side effects. Dr. Shillingford’s bariatric patients often come from Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Wellington, West Palm Beach, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale for his expertise in affordable gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and adjustable lap band surgeries.