In honor of National Stroke Month, UnityPoint at Home wants to help you lower your blood pressure in the most natural way possible. With roughly 70 million people diagnosed with high blood pressure, everyone needs to be educated on the symptoms, what groups of people at risk, and methods and treatments to lower blood pressure.
Often called the “silent killer”, high blood pressure happens without any forewarning. Damage may be occurring to your heart, arteries and other organs without your knowledge if you aren’t vigilant about monitoring your blood pressure.
The first step to solving the problem is understanding why keeping your blood pressure within certain parameters matters. If left uncontrolled, high blood pressure can cause severe injury - or even death. Check out these tips to help avoid high blood pressure and to help maintain a healthy life!
What is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the act of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. While our blood pressure rates vary throughout an average day, high blood pressure is diagnosed when it remains elevated for extended periods of time. High blood pressure can cause damage to our heart and arteries, which can lead to heart disease, stroke and other major complications.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
While high blood pressure can go without notice, there are several symptoms that can help you notice a change, including:
- Dizzy spells
- Increase of nosebleeds
If any of these symptoms become apparent, contact your doctor to find the source of the issue. To determine if you have high blood pressure, a healthcare provider will often times monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis.
Health Risks of High Blood Pressure
The CDC states that high blood pressure raises your risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the leading cause of death in the United States. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may be at risk for:
- Damage and narrowing of arteries
- Blocked blood flow
- Chest pain (angina)
- Heart attack
- Vision loss
- Kidney damage
- Dementia or other cognitive impairment
Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure
There are many ways to lower blood pressure through medication, but did you know that there are also natural ways to maintain healthy blood pressure? By implementing several of the following heart healthy ideas, individuals can help maintain their blood pressure and avoid serious complications such as heart attack or stroke.
1. D.A.S.H Eating Plan
It is no secret that what we eat has a direct correlation to our overall health, but what some do not know is that a healthy diet can also reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, proper nutrition can also help lower it to a healthier level.
The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, also known as DASH, aims to lower blood pressure through a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fats and cholesterol. Lowering your sodium intake can also reduce your blood pressure. The DASH eating plan suggests consuming heart healthy foods such as:
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy
2. Manage Weight
Being overweight puts you at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure than those who maintain a healthy weight. Shedding an extra 10 pounds can significantly help in reducing your blood pressure. If you are obese, losing additional weight may result in even lower blood pressure.
Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day can lower your blood pressure in less time than you may think, especially if you are currently living a more sedentary lifestyle. Talk to your doctor to create a physical exercise routine that is appropriate for you. One good place to start is with short workouts, then gradually build up to a sustainable schedule that is approved by your physician.
4. Manage Stress
Excessive stress is something we all want to avoid, and for good reason! Stress that seems overwhelming to you is yet another cause for high blood pressure. Work-related stress is often the most frequent contributor to high blood pressure. Exercise, proper nutrition and deep breathing are all effective ways to lower stress. In addition, try to avoid situations that seem to get your “blood boiling”!
5. Quit Smoking
You may think everyone understands the health hazards of smoking, but with roughly 42.1 million people still smoking cigarettes in 2013, the risks of smoking still needs to be emphasized. High blood pressure is just one of the many adverse side effects of cigarette smoking. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, kicking this habit will be one of the best ways to regain a healthy blood pressure level.
6. Limit Alcohol Consumption
While it’s often said that a glass of wine a day is good for us, excessive alcohol consumption can be detrimental to our health. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.
For more tips on how to lower your blood pressure check in with your UnityPoint Health primary care provider.