Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Or maybe you’re just trying to make sure you don’t get it. Either way, there are many things you can do to help you control your blood pressure – and live a healthier life.
Plus, if you do these things, you may also be able to avoid taking medication for high blood pressure. If you’re already taking medication, your primary care provider (PCP) may tell you that you need less of it.
But first, let’s talk about why it’s important to control your blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause problems throughout your body. It makes you more likely to suffer from heart failure. It can lead to strokes or dementia. It can damage your eyes. And it can cause kidney failure. These are just a few of the harmful and possibly fatal things that high blood pressure can cause. The good thing is, high blood pressure can be managed. Here are 10 things you can start doing now to help lower your blood pressure and keep it down:
- Lose a few extra pounds
Did you know that as your weight increases, your blood pressure may increase, too? Losing weight is one of the best ways to reduce high blood pressure. Even losing just a few pounds will make a difference. Want some help? Start with your PCP. They can help you create a weight loss plan that’s healthy and effective. You can also find some helpful tips here.
- Get more active
We all know that exercise is good for us. But if you have high blood pressure, it’s even more important. What’s great is, you can get exercise anywhere. Walking, riding a bike, dancing – they’re all smart (and fun!) ways to help improve your blood pressure. Not sure how to get started? No problem. Talk to your PCP about creating an exercise program that’s right for you.
- Make healthier food choices
Eating well isn’t always easy, especially when you’re busy. But if you can do things like eat at home more often, or carry healthy snacks with you when you’re out, you can make a difference in your blood pressure. The American Heart Association offers some information to help you make smarter choices. Check it out and see how easy it can be to eat healthier.
- Eat less salt and sodium
Cutting back on salt and sodium in your diet can make a real difference if you have high blood pressure. And you may be surprised how many ways you can make that happen. Start by using herbs and spices in your food instead of salt. Then try eating fewer processed foods, because many of them have salt and sodium added. And if there’s something you need at the grocery store that comes in a “low sodium” version, give it a try. If you have high blood pressure, try to limit your sodium to 1500 mg. or less per day.
- Drink less alcohol
A drink now and then is fine for most people. But if you drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol, you can actually raise your blood pressure. And if you’re taking blood pressure medication, it may not work as well if you drink.
- Quit smoking
You’ve heard it before – smoking is bad for you! But it’s true, especially if you have high blood pressure. If you quit, you can help your blood pressure stay normal. Better yet, people who quit smoking may live longer than people who don’t. Fortunately, there are all kinds of resources to help you quit.
- Cut down on caffeine
Caffeine can be found in things like coffee, sodas and some teas. And it affects different people in different ways. If you are concerned about your blood pressure, you may want to talk to your PCP about how caffeine may affect your health.
- Try to reduce your stress level
Everyone feels stress now and then. And it can be one of the hardest things to control in your life. Start by making more time for things you enjoy. Try to get more sleep. Exercise helps, too. And if the stress gets to be too much, be sure to talk to your PCP about the Behavioral Health resources you get with Columbia Pacific CCO.
- Track your blood pressure and see your PCP
Keeping track of your blood pressure at home is an important way to help manage it. Talk to your PCP about how you can do that. And speaking of your PCP, regular visits with them can help you make sure you’re doing all you can to keep your blood pressure under control. Not sure who your PCP is? Look on your Columbia Pacific CCO member ID card.
- Get help from friends and family
Some of the best support you can get when you’re living with high blood pressure is from your family and friends. People who care about you want you to live a long and healthy life. So, be sure to tell them how they can help. Whether it’s getting you out of the house for exercise, helping you eat better, or just making you laugh when you’re stressed out, friends and family can be one of your very best resources for better health.
More helpful resources
Learn more about high blood pressure
Checking your blood pressure at home
High blood pressure and exercise
Beating high blood pressure with food
What are my Columbia Pacific CCO health benefits?