When you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, you’re also now statistically more vulnerable to a range of conditions, many of which can be life-threatening. Furthermore, high blood pressure itself can be dangerous if left untreated. While there are medications that can help control your blood pressure, they can come with significant side effects.
However, it’s possible for you to make small changes to your lifestyle that can add up to better blood pressure. In this blog, Sameer Ohri, MD, lists six lifestyle modifications that can help you lower your blood pressure without having to use medication.
1. Monitor yourself
Home blood pressure monitors are widely available and affordable. Invest in a monitor and use it regularly to not only see where your blood pressure readings are day to day, but also to learn more about how living affects you. Use the apps that come with many monitors to keep a record of your progress. Many people have a condition known as “white coat syndrome,” in which their blood pressure reads higher in doctors’ offices. Compare your results at home with those taken in Dr. Ohri’s office, and watch your blood pressure improve as you adopt other changes.
2. Stop smoking
Every cigarette raises your blood pressure and holds it there long after you put out your cigarette. The health benefits associated with quitting smoking are substantial. Quitting can return your life expectancy closer to normal. There are no health benefits associated with smoking, and you should see your blood pressure start to drop soon after quitting.
3. Control alcohol intake
Alcohol can have positive blood pressure effects, but only if you drink moderately. The general guideline is one drink daily for women and two drinks daily for men. Exceeding this level has the opposite effect and can cause your blood pressure to rise. Keep in mind that one drink equals roughly 1.5 ounces of spirits, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer.
4. Increase activity levels
There’s no need to join a gym and find two hours in your day for formal training. Adding 30 minutes a day of mild to moderate activity most days is often enough to lower your blood pressure as much as 8 points. Furthermore, that 30 minutes doesn’t need to be all at once. Adding three 10-minute walks daily can provide the same effect. Consistency is the key, though, so choose an activity you can maintain easily. When you’ve added regular levels of aerobic activity, talk to Dr. Ohri about adding strength exercises twice a week.
5. Manage stress
To see for yourself how stress management can help lower your blood pressure, get a reading from a blood pressure monitor. Then breathe deeply and slowly for three minutes and test again. Chances are you’ll see your numbers drop, sometimes significantly. It’s not always easy to remove stress from your life, but you can take steps to manage your response to stress.
6. Adopt the DASH diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is recognized as the best approach to healthy eating with high blood pressure in mind. Not only that, it’s generally a smart diet for preventing or managing other health conditions, including diabetes. As with physical activity, you can introduce aspects of the DASH diet a little at a time until better eating becomes a habit that’s easy to follow.
To learn more about controlling your blood pressure, book an appointment online or over the phone with Sameer Ohri, MD today.