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4 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Author: Sangeetha Balakrishnan, MD

Nearly 46% of adults in the United States struggle with high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to increased risks for stroke, heart attack, and other coronary complications. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force of blood against the arterial walls, and it is measured in two parts:

  • Systolic, or “active” – the force or pressure that heart pumps blood throughout the body
  • Diastolic, or “resting” – the force or pressure of blood flow as the heart rests between beats

Healthy adults should have a blood pressure goal of less than 120 systolic over 70 diastolic. Having a higher blood pressure increases the amount of stress on the body and the heart in particular, and, over time, can contribute to fatty buildup in the arteries, heart attack, or even heart failure.

With heart disease being the leading cause of death for adults, it is more important than ever to address your personal risk factors and learn how to lower them. Here are a few ways to lower your blood pressure and improve your overall heart health.

  1. Know Your Risk Factors

There are a variety of factors that contribute to each individual’s unique level of risk. While some, like family history, are uncontrollable, there are plenty of lifestyle choices that everyone can make to lower their blood pressure and reduce their risks for other coronary diseases.

People have an increased risk for high blood pressure if they:

  • Smoke or use tobacco products
  • Consume excessive amounts of alcohol (more than 1-2 drinks per day)
  • Are overweight
  • Also have another health disease or condition like diabetes or obesity
  • Have a family history of heart disease

Even if you are not showing symptoms of high blood pressure, it is important to acknowledge potential risk factors, and to discuss potential complications with your primary care physician.

  1. Eat a Heart Healthy Diet

Your diet plays a major role in maintaining a healthy blood pressure. A heart healthy diet is one that consists of low amounts of sodium, high fiber content, a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats like fish or chicken. While cholesterol often gets a bad reputation, there are foods that contain healthy cholesterol, like nuts, avocados, and foods made with olive oil. These “healthy fats” are also important for anyone looking to stick to a heart-healthy diet.

  1. Make Exercise a Priority

The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 120 minutes of aerobic exercise every week in order to stay healthy. Regular exercise can not only help to lower your blood pressure, it can also boost the body’s immune system, increase metabolism—and it can greatly benefit your mental health as well. Focus on incorporating a variety of cardio, strength training, and low-intensity exercises—such as swimming or walking—into your weekly routine.

  1. Get Regular Screenings

While adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle is a crucial component of lowering your blood pressure and maintaining your long-term heart health, there are certain risk factors that are simply beyond our control. This is why regular heart-health screenings are so important.

Adults over the age of 20 should have a general physical exam as well as a blood pressure screening once a year. Additionally, blood sugar, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels should be monitored by your primary care physician at least once every three to five years. Adults over the age of 50 may need to monitor these cardiovascular numbers more often, especially if they also have an additional condition like hypertension or diabetes. Your doctor will be able to help you assess your personal risk factors and can help you combat any complications to avoid future problems.

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Posted February, 2020