High blood pressure (hypertension) means your blood moves through your arteries at a higher pressure than it should. It’s often called the “silent killer” because often there aren’t any obvious signs or symptoms.
Your blood pressure is shown as two numbers: The first is called systolic pressure and the second is called diastolic pressure. If you haven’t visited your health professional in a while to check yours, you can measure your own blood pressure at many drug stores and pharmacies!
Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. Hypertension can lead to heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and more.
High blood pressure increases your risk of:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Kidney disease or failure
- Vision loss
- Sexual dysfunction
DASH: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension:
- Eat more veggies, fruits, and low-fat dairy foods
- Cut back on foods high in saturated fat, trans fats, and cholesterol
- Eat more whole-grain foods, fish, poultry, and nuts
- Avoid sodium, sweets, sugary drinks, and red meats
Ways to lower blood pressure:
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Lower salt intake
- Limit alcohol
- Exercise regularly
- Quit smoking
- Keep a healthy weight
- Manage stress
BUILD TINY HABITS
Get your potassium: Veggies and fruit should fill half of every plate! Dairy, legumes, and nuts are good sources, too.
Try new spices: Replace salt with spices like pepper, herbs, lemon juice, vinegar, or mustard.
Avoid processed food: Limit foods like pizza, canned soup, certain breads, cold cuts, smoked meat/fish, salted nuts, meals from fast food restaurants, etc.
Add steps: Park farther away so you can walk more.
Banish elevators: Two or three flights of stairs? Take them instead of the elevator.
Reduce alcohol: At a party, between alcoholic drinks, have a glass of water.
Learn to ask for help: If you feel like you’re always running out of time and stressed, ask for help!
Breathe to de-stress: Take 2 to 5 mins to breathe deeply every day. Close your eyes and place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Slowly inhale and exhale through your nose, and feel how the air enters and exits your body.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
Make your health a priority: Schedule time for exercise, cooking, and relaxation. Make self care a priority.
Get support from family/friends: If you start to exercise more or change your diet, make sure that your family/friends understand how important these lifestyle changes are for your health and that they support you.
Talk to your doctor: Ask about your blood pressure at your next checkup. If you’re already diagnosed with high blood pressure, tell your doctor about any challenges you have—like with your diet, stress, forgetting to take medication, etc.
Plan ahead: Plan your (healthy) meals for the whole week, make a shopping list, and stick to it! Make sure to include veggies, fruit, nuts, milk, and plain yogurt.
Stay away from temptation: When shopping, have a snack before you head to the store and stay away from the aisles with junk food. When you eat out, check out menus before you go so you can choose places with healthy options.
Carebook Health & Wellness Team – Last reviewed 04-2019