6 Ways to Combat Hypertension - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on August 10, 2016

6 Ways to Combat Hypertension

6 Ways to Combat Hypertension

A blood pressure test is one of the easiest,
but most important, exams you'll have
at your next routine physical.

It’s a problem that more than 75 million Americans deal with - high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. When you have high blood pressure, it means that the blood pumping through your arteries is placing too much force against the artery walls and it could cause health issues down the road.

The good news is that you can make lifestyle choices that can help to combat hypertension. Here are six ways you can reverse high blood pressure and help to avoid the associated health problems that can come with it.

1. Clean Up Your Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet helps to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. If it’s already high, eating foods low in sodium and high in potassium can help bring it back down. Try the so-called DASH diet—the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan—that calls for:

  • 6-8 servings of grains
  • Maximum of 2.5 servings of meat, poultry or fish
  • 4-5 servings of fruit
  • 4-5 servings of vegetables
  • 2-3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products
  • 2,300 milligrams of sodium or less per day

Consult a dietician if you want to create a more comprehensive diet plan to help maintain a healthy blood pressure.

2. Watch Your Caffeine Intake

While there is no conclusive evidence that links caffeine consumption to higher blood pressure, it might be safer to switch to decaf just in case. A recent study showed that consuming 500 milligrams of caffeine, which is about three cups of coffee per day, increased blood pressure a little bit for the rest of the day.

Tea might be a better alternative. Another study found that people who drank three cups of hibiscus tea throughout the day experienced a little bit of a drop in blood pressure.

3. Get Plenty of Exercise

The surgeon general recommends two hours and thirty minutes of exercise per week, which breaks down to about 20 minutes per day. Even if the idea of starting an exercise regimen intimidates you, all you have to do at minimum is a little brisk walking or cycling to get the benefits of exercise.

4. Work Less!

Research from the University of California, Irvine indicates that working more than 41 hours per week can raise the risk of hypertension by about 15 percent. The more time you spend at work, the less time you have for exercise and leisurely activities, and the more likely you are to make unhealthy concessions to your diet in the name of convenience. Some of our societal pressures that promote working as many hours as you can every day while sacrificing sleep and free time are actually contributing to high blood pressure, and potentially other health issues.

Additionally, your workplace might be a source of stress.

5. Manage Stress

While stress hasn’t been proven to cause hypertension, it can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure. Exercise can help diminish the effects of stress. You can also try other methods such as meditation, taking deep breaths or counting from one to 10 when you find yourself in stressful situations, or listening to some comedy for about 20 minutes a day.

Music can also help you relax. In a study of people who were already taking medication for hypertension, listening to Indian, Celtic and soothing classical music helped further reduce blood pressure.

6. Monitor Your Blood Pressure

In between visits to the doctor, you should check up on your blood pressure at home to make sure the steps you’re taking to reduce it are working. Blood pressure monitors are easily available, even without a prescription. If you want, you can also join a support group if you think having others hold you accountable will help you follow through on the steps you need to take to improve your blood pressure.

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