Lifestyle Hacks for Lowering High Blood Pressure

Lifestyle Hacks for Lowering High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can have devastating long-term consequences for your health — yet until something serious happens, many of us don’t even know our blood pressure has reached a dangerous level. The good news: Once diagnosed, hypertension can be effectively managed, and in some cases, you won’t even need to take medication.

As a top-rated cardiologist in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, New York, Michael Avaricio, MD helps patients at Advanced Cardiac Care learn important steps they can take to manage their blood pressure successfully. Whether you have hypertension or you want to minimize your risk of developing it, these eight tips can help.

1. Quit smoking

Atherosclerosis (“hardening” of the arteries) is a major cause of high blood pressure. Atherosclerosis happens when sticky fat deposits (plaques) collect along the interior sides of the arteries, making them narrower and stiffer. Smoking is a leading cause of atherosclerosis, damaging the arteries and causing inflammation that makes it a lot easier for those plaques to stick.

2. Cut out bad fats

Bad fats are fats that contribute to clogged arteries. Saturated fats are among the worst offenders. You don’t have to eliminate all fats — in fact, some may help lower your blood pressure by clearing away the bad fats. Good fats include those found in oily fish, nuts, olive oil, avocados, and seeds. 

3. Watch your salt intake (sugar, too)

High levels of salt (sodium) and sugars are in a surprising number of foods. Sugars contribute to high blood pressure by making you gain weight, while sodium causes your tissues to retain fluids, putting a lot of extra strain on your blood vessels and your heart (and raising your blood pressure, too).

4. Read food labels

How can you tell how much fat, sodium, or sugars you’re consuming? By reading food labels. For produce and any other foods without label information, you can find the data you need by doing a simple internet search.

5. Get moving

Regular exercise helps manage blood pressure by strengthening your heart, so it doesn’t have to work as hard to circulate your blood. It also helps you burn off extra calories and drop excess pounds for further blood pressure benefits. For maximum effect, focus on getting at least 30 minutes of aerobics (like walking or bicycling) five days a week, and add in some weight training, too.

6. Make sleep a priority

When we sleep, our blood pressure naturally decreases, which means your blood vessels and your heart get a little break from the stresses and strains of your daily grind. Getting fewer than 7-9 hours of sleep per night can increase your risk of high blood pressure, along with your risks of heart attack, heart disease, stroke, and obesity.

7. Try the DASH diet

DASH stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. Developed by the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, the DASH diet is recommended by the American Heart Association for people who have high blood pressure, as well as for those who want to prevent high blood pressure. You can find an outline of the plan along with a sample menu plan here.

8. Cut the stress

For many, this is potentially the most difficult step to take. Stress is all around us, and most Americans report feeling really stressed out on a daily basis. Stress triggers inflammation, which is tough on blood vessels (and your heart, too), and it also releases hormones that can cause you to gain weight. 

Finding a way every day to relax is very important for your blood pressure and your overall health, too. Yoga and meditation are great, but there are other ways to de-stress: Taking a walk, reading (for fun), and listening to music can be great alternatives. “Square” breathing and deep breathing reduce stress, and you can do these methods pretty much anywhere.

Learn more ways to manage your blood pressure

Managing your blood pressure is one of the best and most important steps you can take to maintain good health and prevent serious medical problems in the future. To learn how Dr. Avaricio and his team can help, call 718-640-2710 or book an appointment online at Advanced Cardiac Care today.

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