Healthier blood pressure: Start here!
4 steps for everyone — plus helpful tips for everyday
You can’t always see or feel what’s going on inside your body — and potentially harming your health. High blood pressure is one of those conditions that can creep up with no warning signs.
Maybe you’re not sure where you stand. Or perhaps you’ve had a doctor tell you that your blood pressure is high. Either way, these steps can help get you on your way to healthier blood pressure and better health.
Step 1. Understand your risk
If high blood pressure isn’t found and treated, it can harm blood vessels throughout the body, including in your:
- Heart and brain, which can trigger a heart attack or stroke
- Kidneys, which can cause chronic kidney disease and possible kidney failure
- Eyes, causing vision changes and sometimes even blindness
Step 2. Know your numbers
The only way to know if your blood pressure is OK is to have it measured. Talk with your doctor if you don’t already know your numbers.
If your blood pressure is too high, your doctor can help you make a plan to bring it down. And don’t forget to check in for checkups — yearly or as your doctor advises. These visits are a great way to keep an eye on your blood pressure.
Step 3. Take control of what you can
Anyone can have high blood pressure. But certain factors increase your risk. Some of those you can’t control, such as your age and family health history. However, there are things you can do in your everyday life to help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range:
Get your heart pumping. Aim to do some sort of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise — such as brisk walking or water aerobics — for at least 150 minutes every week.*
Focus on healthy foods. What you eat can affect whether your blood pressure goes up — or down. See “Dig in to DASH!” to learn about a flavor-filled eating plan that can help prevent and control high blood pressure.
Maintain a healthy weight. Experts say you should keep an eye on your body mass index (BMI). It uses your height and weight to estimate your body fat. Ask your doctor what a healthy BMI is for you.
Limit alcohol. If you choose to drink, do so only in moderation. That means no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two for men.
Manage stress. Find tension-relievers that work for you. Maybe that’s reading a book, listening to music or doing deep breathing. Exercise is a proven stress buster too. And since it’s also a plus for healthy blood pressure, consider it doubly good.
Step 4. Work with your doctor
Your doctor may want you to monitor your blood pressure at home. Have questions about that? Here’s a handy checklist you can take to your next visit.
If lifestyle changes don’t do the trick, your doctor may prescribe medicine to help get those blood pressure numbers down.
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*Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.