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May is High Blood Pressure Awareness Month

May 07 - Posted at 2:01 PM Tagged: , , , , , , ,

One in three American adults has high blood pressure. Medication is often prescribed, but that is not the only solution. There are many lifestyle strategies that have also been shown to have an impact. For some, weight loss combined with exercise and a healthy eating plan may even reduce or eliminate the need for medication altogether.


Your doctor can help you decide whether to take a combined approach of medication plus lifestyle change, or whether to try following these health lifestyle strategies first:


  1. Increase Exercise- Aerobic exercise, like walking, biking, swimming, or water aerobics,  can lower blood pressure and also help with weight loss. It does not take a time-consuming workout in a gym to reap the benefits either. As few as 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week has been shown to be effective.


  2. Cut Your Salt Intake- Eating a diet high in sodium may raise your blood pressure and lead to heart disease and stroke. Experts recommend limiting sodium intake to 2300 mg per day. People 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease are advised to limit sodium to 1500 mg. Steps you can take to limit your sodium intake include checking labels of food and OTC medications for their sodium content, using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor food, and avoiding processed foods such as canned and frozen ready-to-eat foods.


  3. Eat a Healthy Diet- Following a DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been shown to help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. A DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat diary products. It restricts the intake of saturated fats, red meat, and sugar. The increased fiber, potassium, calcium and magnesium from these foods are all thought to play a role in reducing blood pressure.


  4. Lose Weight- Even a 10 pound weight loss can help reduce blood pressure or prevent high blood pressure in the majority of overweight people. Steps you can integrate into your everyday life to aid in losing weight include keeping a food journal to track exactly what and how much you eat, watching your portion sizes, not skipping meals, trying to include 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily which will fill you up and help curb your hunger.


  5. Limit Alcohol- Drinking a lot of alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you choose to drink, keep your alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks for men. A drink is the equivalent of 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 2 ounces of hard liquor.


The key is ultimately discovering what works best for you and your body. Choose your strategies, take action and start enjoying the benefits.

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