High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major cause of disability and death in the United States each year, contributing to or causing many cases of heart attack, stroke, kidney and heart failure. Frequently, medication must be used to reduce blood pressure to a safer level. However, many people may be able to avoid medication use entirely if they adhere to one or more of the following strategies:
1)Lose weight. Obesity is the biggest risk factor for hypertension. Even losing ten pounds through decreasing saturated fats and simple sugars in the diet and starting an exercise program can make a huge difference in blood pressure.
2)Modify lifestyle choices. Eliminate tobacco, limit caffeine and alcohol (to no more than one drink of each per day) and moderate sodium, shooting for less than 2000 milligrams per day. Remember, there is a lot of “hidden” salt in the typical Western diet.
3)Reduce stress. Get enough sleep, eat balanced and nutritious meals and make sure to regularly exercise. Meditation is important, and counseling can be helpful.
4)Avoid various recreational drugs and pharmaceuticals. Cocaine and methamphetamine are notorious for raising blood pressure. So can various prescribed and over-the-counter medications, including weight loss pills, asthma medications, birth control pills and decongestants, to name a few.
Following these lifestyle recommendations can frequently reduce blood pressure to a safer level, paying huge dividends to one’s health.