Once you discover that have high blood pressure, you get filled up with the fear of all the negative effects that this condition can possibly have on your life. You get a sense of despair and defeat and you feel helpless. Don’t sweat it. I’m going to take you through some of the steps I took that made me hypertension free in less than a year. Please not that before you undertake any activity that you consult with your doctor.
What is high blood pressure?
First, we need to understand what it means to have high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force with which blood pumps from your heart to your arteries. Normal blood pressure is usually less than 120/80 mm Hg. When your blood pressure is high, your blood moves in a more forceful way and this will strain your arteries and blood vessels.
- Don’t stress yourself.
The most important thing to your journey in reducing your blood pressure is to make sure that you live a stress free life. I found that the more relaxed I was, the more I was able to focus on methods to reduce my pressure. Stress can temporarily raise your blood pressure and it will divert your energy from living a healthy life to worrying and fussing about things you most probably can’t control. The journey to reducing blood pressure involves a lot if things and in order to achieve your goal, you need to be in the right mental state.
It is important to evaluate your life and identify things that bring you stress. The next step is to find ways to manage your stress. Talk to a friend or a help group about the things that stress you, as they say “a problem shared is a problem half solved”. Lastly, you need to realize that you cannot control everything in life.
- Get active
Leading an active lifestyle has been proven to reduce blood pressure greatly. If you haven’t exercised for a while, you might start by taking thing slow like walking for about an hour a day. The most effective form of exercise for people with hypertension is cardio exercises. This includes walking, running, swimming, riding a bicycle and hiking. Commit to an exercise regime you enjoy and you will gradually see your pressure reduce drastically. Exercise also helps reduce stress levels and improves your mood. Once you exercise you will see your weight reduce and the smaller your waistline gets, the lower your blood pressure will be.
- Watch what you eat.
Now that you have hypertension, it is important to follow the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. This diet can lower your blood pressure by as much as 10 mm Hg systolic. The DASH diet consists of:
- eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- eating low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, and nuts
- eliminating foods that are high in saturated fats, such as processed foods, full-fat dairy products, and fatty meats
It also helps to cut back on desserts and sweetened beverages, such as soda and fruit punch.
- Reduce your salt intake
Sodium has been proven to increase blood pressure. The AHA recommends limiting your sodium intake to between 1,500 milligrams (mg) and 2,300 mg per day. That’s a little over half a teaspoon of table salt. Processed foods also tend to be loaded with sodium. Always read food labels and choose low- sodium foods.
- Throw away cigarettes
Cigarette smoke raises your blood pressure for several minutes after you finish. If you’re a heavy smoker, your blood pressure can stay elevated for extended periods of time. If you have high blood pressure and smoke, you are at greater risk of developing dangerously high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Even secondhand smoke can put you at increased risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Reduce your booze
Drinking a glass of red wine might offer heart-health benefits when drunk in moderation. However, excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to numerous health issues, including high blood pressure. Excessive drinking can also reduce the effectiveness of certain blood pressure medications.
The AHA recommends that men limit their consumption to two alcoholic drinks per day. Women should limit their intake to one alcoholic drink per day. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.