High blood pressure, medically known as Hypertension, is a serious condition in which your blood is pressing against your artery walls with too much force that it may cause health problems. Complications of high blood pressure include:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Coronary heart disease
- Arterial aneurysm
- Kidney failure
- Cognitive impairment
You may not have any obvious symptoms if you have high blood pressure. But don’t underestimate the potential harm of this condition. High blood pressure is often called “the silent killer” because it may cause life-threatening damage before you know it’s a problem.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of these serious health complications.
To address the public health problem of widespread high blood pressure, an evidence-based diet program was developed called the DASH diet—Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
The DASH diet is an eating pattern that focuses on avoiding foods and ingredients that are known to contribute to high blood pressure—salt, saturated fat, and added sugar. This also includes red meat, fried foods, processed meals and snacks, sweets, sodas, and sugary drinks.
Instead, the DASH diet includes foods that are high in nutrients that help lower blood pressure—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts, herbs, and spices.
Even if you aren’t ready to fully commit to the DASH diet, limiting your consumption of sodium, fatty meats, and sugary snacks and maximizing your intake of nutritious vegetables will go a long way in helping to lower your blood pressure.
Regular physical activity is another important part of managing high blood pressure. Exercise helps train your heart muscle to work more efficiently, reducing the amount of work it has to do and the effort required to pump blood through your body. It may also help clear out plaque from your arteries, further lowering your blood pressure.
Exercise, especially with healthy dieting, will also help you maintain a healthier weight—another important factor in managing high blood pressure.
Managing stress is another key component of lowering blood pressure. When you’re stressed, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, which releases hormones that constrict your blood vessels and raise your heart rate. While this can be a helpful defense mechanism when you are in danger, it takes a toll on your body when constantly activated by everyday stressors.
Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, as well as a host of other health problems.
That’s why it’s important to find ways safe and health-promoting ways to relax and manage stress. Some relaxation techniques that can help lower blood pressure include:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Deep breathing exercises
- Spending time in nature
- Making time for things you enjoy
- Creative art
- Listening to music
- Getting consistent, good-quality sleep
- Avoiding stressful triggers
Routine Checkups With Your Doctor
Since high blood pressure can be both dangerous and symptom-free, it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly by a doctor. This is even more true for people who have already been diagnosed with Hypertension. You will need to be monitored regularly so that any necessary changes to your treatment plan can be made.
Your doctor will also be able to help you develop a healthy lifestyle plan—including diet, exercise, stress management, and more—that can help you to lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health.
They may also prescribe medication, if necessary, to help you control your blood pressure.
Don’t wait until you have a serious health problem to take care of your blood pressure. By making lifestyle changes and working with your doctor, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of serious health complications.