Your blood pressure is the force at which your blood travels through your blood vessels. Both low blood pressure and high blood pressure can cause problems. Low blood pressure might make you faint, feel nauseous, have blurry vision, or feel light-headed.
High blood pressure, sometimes called hypertension, might not cause any symptoms. Although that might sound like a good thing, high blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to heart attacks and strokes, if left untreated. In 2019 alone, hypertension contributed to over half a million deaths.
As startling as those statistics may be, it’s important to know that high blood pressure can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication. Even if you don’t currently have high blood pressure, these same lifestyle changes can help prevent it in the future.
Below, Dr. Henock Saint-Jaques shares eight ways to prevent high blood pressure.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Exercise makes your heart stronger, and because a stronger heart pumps more blood with less effort, both your diastolic and systolic blood pressure levels lower.
Aerobic exercise, including walking, jogging, biking, hiking, dancing, and rollerskating, are all good for your overall physical and mental health. Be sure to clear any new exercise routines with Dr. Saint-Jaques.
2. Eat a healthy diet
Following the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is clinically shown to safely lower blood pressure. The DASH diet isn’t a fad. It’s a diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. The DASH diet avoids heavily processed food, saturated fats, and high sodium foods.
3. Manage stress
In stressful situations, your body shifts into fight-or-flight mode as a means of self-preservation. Hypertension is a short-term effect of being in fight-or-flight mode, and as the danger (or stressful situation) passes, your blood pressure returns to normal.
However, being chronically stressed and always in a state of flight-or-fight can contribute to chronically elevated blood pressure. With this in mind, managing your stress levels is a great way to help prevent high blood pressure. Exercise, meditation, yoga, and practicing time management all have a positive effect on stress levels.
4. Quit smoking
Smoking cessation and avoiding secondhand smoke can help prevent heart disease, hypertension, and a multitude of other health conditions. If you need help quitting, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
5. Monitor your sodium intake
Although sodium is a necessary mineral, too much sodium can increase your blood pressure by pulling more water into your bloodstream. More fluid in your bloodstream increases the pressure in your blood vessels. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg a day, but if you already have hypertension, you may benefit from consuming less than 1,500 mg per day.
6. Cut back on alcohol
Drinking alcohol temporarily raises your blood pressure, but if you drink more than the recommended daily amount, you could experience chronic hypertension. Avoiding alcohol (or at least drinking within the recommended amounts) can help lower your blood pressure.
7. Get enough sleep
You can also support your heart health by getting between seven and nine hours of good quality sleep each night. Prioritize your sleep and practice good sleep hygiene.
8. Manage underlying conditions
Some health conditions, such as sleep apnea, kidney disease, and diabetes, can contribute to high blood pressure. By managing these conditions, you can help prevent high blood pressure.
When to seek treatment for high blood pressure
Despite these lifestyle modifications, it’s possible that your blood pressure levels remain elevated. The good news is that medication can safely lower your blood pressure and help reduce your risk of heart attacks caused by high blood pressure.
After a thorough exam and a review of your EKG results, Dr. Saint-Jacques recommends the right medication and lifestyle adjustments for you.
Don’t wait until blood pressure levels get worse. You can seek treatment as soon as you know you have high blood pressure. Schedule an appointment at our Madison Avenue office by calling 646-381-2181 or booking an appointment online.