High blood pressure is an epidemic in America. It can cause heart disease, kidney failure, stroke and heart attacks. Also called hypertension, high blood pressure is most common in men over 45, women over 55, those who are overweight and people with a family history of the disorder. Whether you have been diagnosed with hypertension or not, controlling blood pressure is an important part of living a healthy life.
If you do have medically diagnosed high blood pressure, there are lots of prescription medications available today that can help. Medications can get expensive, and if you’re on something else, the interactions can be dangerous. While medications are often an easy, quick fix for a serious issue, your body can also build up tolerance to active ingredients, making them ineffective. There are natural, less expensive and better-for-you solutions that are just as effective as chemical controls, so try these before supplementing your diet with hypertension medication.
Weight loss. Obesity is one of the major risk factors for hypertension, which makes losing weight one of the best ways to lower risk. When the body carries extra weight, it puts strain on the biggest and most important muscles in our bodies, the legs and heart muscle. Shedding excess pounds can relieve this pressure on the heart and, in turn, lower blood pressure.
Staying active. While moving around and working out will help with weight loss, doing small things to stay active can also help reduce high blood pressure risk. Social activities such as volunteering and taking dance classes provide supportive settings that promote healthy aging and decrease stress.
Sleep. Over 50 percent of people with sleep apnea, which prevents good, sound sleep and causes daytime sleepiness also have hypertension. Many who suffer from this disorder are also obese, compounding the risk of having high blood pressure. Not only can getting a good night’s rest help control blood pressure, it can help you lose weight. For more about how to get better sleep, check out this article.
Stop salt. Processed and restaurant prepared food is rich in sodium, and that can leads to increased risk of stroke, hypertension and heart disease. Cooking at home, buying food labeled low sodium and no-salt can help cut salt intake down, and asking for no salt added entrees when you’re out are great ways to help control blood pressure.
De-stress. Stress can cause reactions similar to the fight or flight instincts that humans needed to survive thousands of years ago. Constricted blood vessels, increased heart rate and higher blood pressure are key for responding physically to stress, but without an outlet, these reactions can cause high blood pressure to stick around. Exercising is a great way to relieve this physical stress, help lose weight and decrease the risk of hypertension, heart attack, heart disease and kidney failure.