Lifestyle changes are the cornerstone of treating high blood pressure (hypertension). From the foods you eat to your fitness level, your daily habits influence your blood pressure. Whether your blood pressure creeps up gradually over the years or surges suddenly, look to your lifestyle for clues on steps you can take to improve your numbers.
Internal medicine specialist Prabhdeep Singh, MD, wants patients to feel empowered to make positive lifestyle changes that can dramatically improve blood pressure. Hypertension is a significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Each year heart attacks claim the lives of 655,000 people, while stroke strikes another 795,000 Americans.
While you can’t change some heart attack and stroke risk factors like age, race, and family history, your lifestyle is something you can control. In this post, we discuss how your daily habits come together to either help or harm your cardiovascular health.
A high salt diet drives hypertension
If you’re like most Americans, your sodium intake is much higher than what’s considered healthy. Sodium is essential to your health, and your body needs a small amount of it to function properly.
The problem is most Americans consume 3,400 mg of sodium or more, which is well above the recommended intake of no more than 2,300 mg. If you have high blood pressure, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium each day.
Surprisingly, the salt shaker isn’t to blame. Americans get the bulk of their sodium from packaged foods. Cooking your meals from fresh or frozen ingredients is the best way to slash your salt intake.
A sedentary lifestyle contributes to high blood pressure
Not getting enough exercise boosts the risk of high blood pressure. When you get your body moving with physical activity, it strengthens the heart to work more efficiently, promoting healthy blood pressure. The heart itself is a muscle, and when you get little to no exercise, you put yourself at a greater risk for hypertension.
It’s recommended that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, and you can do so in a way that best suits your interest and lifestyle. Even going for regular brisk walks benefits heart health and promotes lower blood pressure.
Carrying excess pounds raises blood pressure
Being overweight is more than a cosmetic issue. Excess weight puts a strain on your heart, making it work harder and boosting blood pressure. If you’re overweight, the good news is getting more exercise and overhauling your eating habits combats high blood pressure and promotes weight management.
Slimming down if you’re overweight has a powerfully positive impact on blood pressure. Losing even a modest amount of weight can significantly lower your blood pressure and have a positive impact on your heart health, as well as your overall health.
Other lifestyle factors influence blood pressure
Habits like smoking and drinking too much alcohol damages arteries and raises the risk for high blood pressure. Other factors like chronic stress and uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes contribute to high blood pressure as well. It’s never too late to start taking steps to lower your blood pressure and protect your heart health.
Making appropriate lifestyle changes goes a long way to help manage blood pressure, and when lifestyle changes aren’t enough, Dr. Singh may recommend drug therapy.
If you have high blood pressure or are concerned about your heart health, we can help. To get started, contact our office to schedule a visit with Dr. Singh or book your request online today. Your heart will thank you.