8 Ways to Reach a Healthy Blood Pressure
To take care of your heart, it’s important to know and track your blood pressure. Millions of Americans have high blood pressure, also called hypertension, but many don’t realize it or aren’t keeping it at a healthy level.
High blood pressure is often “silent,” meaning it doesn’t usually cause symptoms but can damage your body, especially your heart over time. While you can’t control everything that increases your risk for high blood pressure – it runs in families, often increases with age and varies by race and ethnicity – there are things you can do. Consider these tips from experts with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) The Heart Truth program:
Know Your Numbers. Everyone ages three and older should get their blood pressure checked by a health care provider at least once a year.
Eat Healthy. Follow a heart-healthy eating plan. For example, use herbs for flavor instead of salt and add one fruit or vegetable to every meal.
Move More. Get at least 2 1/2 hours of physical activity each week to help lower and control blood pressure. To ensure you’re reducing your sitting throughout the day and getting active, try breaking your activity up. Do 10 minutes of exercise, three times a day or one 30-minute session on five separate days each week.
Aim for a Healthy Weight. If you’re overweight, losing just 3-5% of your weight can improve blood pressure. If you weigh 200 pounds, that’s a loss of 6-10 pounds.
Manage Stress. Stress can increase your blood pressure and make your body store more fat. Reduce stress with meditation, relaxing activities or support from a counselor or online group.
Have a Healthy Pregnancy. High blood pressure during pregnancy can harm the mother and baby. It also increases a woman’s risk of having high blood pressure later in life.
Stop Smoking. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can harm your heart and blood vessels. Seek out resources, such as smoke free hotlines and text message programs, that offer free support and information.
Work with Your Doctor. Get help setting your target blood pressure. Take all prescribed medications as directed and keep up your healthy lifestyle.
To find more information about high blood pressure as well as resources for tracking your numbers, visit nhlbi.nih.gov/hypertension.