Your blood pressure can rise to dangerous levels without you having any idea it’s happening. In fact, almost half of Americans over the age of 20 have high blood pressure and many don’t know it.

The experts at Maryland Cardiology Associates in Greenbelt, Maryland, are aware of the many dangers associated with hypertension and work to help our patients understand that it’s possible to manage high blood pressure and the health benefits are well worth the effort.

Here we suggest some changes you can make on your own that can help lower your blood pressure and also improve your overall health.

1. Quit smoking

You already know smoking is bad for your health, but you may not realize it’s especially bad for your cardiovascular health. Quitting is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health and lower your blood pressure.

2. Check your diet

Nutrition can be confusing. You hear about all sorts of diets and approaches all the time, and some of them seem to make perfect sense, even if they’re totally contradictory.

Here’s what the vast majority of people need to eat: more vegetables than anything else, a nice variety of fruits, some whole grains and lean protein, and a small amount of healthy fat.

In practice, that means aiming for fresh foods cooked at home, more beans, fish, and poultry, and fruits for dessert while avoiding heavily processed foods, prepared foods, and sugary drinks and desserts. Along with these basic nutrition guidelines, you should limit the amount of sodium you consume. That doesn’t just mean putting down the salt shaker at dinner. Check labels because often items you wouldn’t suspect, like bread, canned soups, and even sports drinks contain high amounts of sodium.

3. Build an exercise habit

Regular physical activity helps lower your blood pressure. You may feel you’re active enough at work and don’t need to dedicate time to exercise—and that’s sometimes true. But often your work activity doesn’t raise your heart rate.

You should aim to raise your heart rate to a moderate level, where you’re exerting yourself but you can still hold a conversation, for at least 150 minutes a week. That may look like a walk after dinner each evening. Or perhaps you love to swim and incorporate 30 minutes of swimming at the gym into your day.

4. Limit alcohol consumption

Try to stay within the recommended limits for alcohol consumption: no more than two drinks per day for men or one for women. Alcohol can both raise your blood pressure and also make medication meant to lower it less effective.

5. See to your sleep

Not enough or poor quality sleep is associated with high blood pressure. If you struggle to sleep, you might begin with some basic sleep hygiene:

 

  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool, and comfortable
  • Turn down the lights and avoid screens an hour or two before bed
  • Create a bedtime routine
  • Set and stay with a regular sleep schedule

6. Find ways to lower stress

Chronic stress is a real problem for many people. If that’s true for you and you have high blood pressure, you should begin considering ways to reduce stress. You might want to try:

  • Setting aside time to pursue a hobby or activity you enjoy
  • Practicing mediation using an app beginning with just a few minutes at a time
  • Spending time outside each day
  • Taking a class in yoga or tai chi
  • Making a point of socializing with friends regularly
  • Being very selective with volunteer activities or roles that overcrowd your calendar

Get professional help

You’re not on your own when it comes to managing your blood pressure. We’re happy to offer tips that are tailored to your life. For example, if you have other chronic health conditions, we can discuss how that might affect your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, even if it’s only slightly elevated, schedule an appointment at Maryland Cardiology Associates. We’d love to help you lower it! Call our office today or book a visit online anytime.

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