Lifestyle Changes That Can Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a health concern, so here are some simple steps to keep it manageable.
There are so many things that can affect our blood pressure: menopause and the hormonal changes, weight gain, stress and anxiety and some medications.
It is always helpful, where you can, to take action to try and reduce blood pressure and its associated health risks of heart disease and strokes.
What are the symptoms?
You may not be aware that your blood pressure is rising as you may not have symptoms at all, but these are some of the most common noticed in women.
- Severe headache
- Fatigue or confusion.
- Vision problems.
- Chest pain/irregular heartbeat.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Blood in the urine.
- Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears.
If you have any of these symptoms consult your doctor or emergency services immediately.
To help keep your blood pressure levels optimum, these changes can all help.
Make small changes
If you have high blood pressure, there’s plenty you can do every day to control it. Eating healthier, exercising more, and tweaking other day-to-day habits can help keep your readings in check.
That might keep you from needing medication to keep your numbers where they should be and if you are not sure what’s right for your age then ask your doctor to do a BP check for you.
Eat a healthy diet
You can lower your blood pressure by eating lots of whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Look for foods that don’t have much fat or cholesterol.
This approach has a name: the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. It includes lean meat, poultry, fish, and nuts. It’s also high in protein and fibre and avoids sugary drinks, red meat, and sweets.
Lose extra weight
Easier said than done at Menopause, when our oestrogen levels from the ovaries have ceased and shifted into the fat cells of the abdomen, stomach and thighs, but shedding even a few extra pounds can lower your blood pressure.
It’s also important to watch your waist size as that can affect your BP. For women, a waist of more than 35 inches is high and for men, it’s more than 40 inches.
As we get older there can be a tendency to slow down and do less, but regular exercise can help you lower your blood pressure and lose weight.
Aim to get at least two to two and a half minutes of physical activity each week. Look for aerobic workouts that make your lungs and heart work a little harder.
Housework such as hoovering washing windows certainly count, but to maintain a regular exercise routine try to make it something that you actually enjoy and can incorporate into your daily life.
Try things like brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing or look for something new that you haven’t tried before such as yoga, Zumba or anything else that looks interesting and within your physical capabilities
Too much sodium can raise your blood pressure. You should aim for no more than 1,500 milligrams a day. You don’t get sodium just from the salt you sprinkle in foods. It can also hide in packaged foods.
Read labels before you buy and salt can lurk in things like soups, sandwiches, and pizza.
Your blood pressure is likely to be higher if you don’t get enough of this nutrient. You need between 3,000 and 3,500 milligrams each day and a medium banana has about 420 milligrams, a baked potato with the skin gives you more than 900 milligrams.
Other sources include spinach, broccoli, beans, tomatoes, oranges, yoghurt, and sweet potatoes, oranges, melon, apricots, grapefruit (some dried fruits, such as prunes, raisins, and dates, are also high in potassium).
Some people with medical issues like kidney disease, or who take certain medicines, may have to be careful with potassium so check with your doctor before changing what you eat.
This has an impact on virtually every aspect of our health and certainly on blood pressure, especially if you deal with it by eating a lot of unhealthy foods, or by smoking or drinking.
Find ways to cope with stress, like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing and take time to relax and do things you enjoy, whether it’s listening to music, gardening, or spending time with friends.
Drinking too much of it can raise your blood pressure and if you’re on medicine for your blood pressure, alcohol may affect how well it works.
Women should try to have no more than one drink a day. For men, it’s two. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
Not the healthiest of habits as it raises your blood pressure and makes a heart attack or stroke more likely.
When you smoke, you hurt the linings of your blood vessels and that makes it harder for them to relax.
What’s more, smoking can make some medicines you take for your blood pressure less effective.
Pay attention to caffeine
If you regularly drink coffee, soft drinks, and other drinks with caffeine, it may not affect your BP much.
But if you rarely have it, caffeine can cause a short spike in your blood pressure when you drink it so be aware of how it is affecting you.
Get enough sleep
Your blood pressure goes down when you sleep. Getting enough is an important way to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.
How much is enough? Most of us need at least 7 hours of high-quality sleep each night which usually that means you fall asleep within 30 minutes, don’t wake up more than once, and fall back to sleep quickly when you do.
Check your blood pressure
Check yours regularly to make sure it doesn’t get too high and you can check it with a home monitor, or you can visit your doctor or some pharmacies offer this service.
High blood pressure often doesn’t have symptoms so measuring your BP is the best way to tell if diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes are working.
Make sure your hormones are balanced
Unfortunately at menopause blood pressure is raised due to a number of factors.
Increased weight is certainly one, stress is another and if you are suffering hormonal symptoms such as hot flushes they will affect your sleep, and that again can raise BP.
Menopause definitely sees an increase in high blood pressure, so see your doctor to make sure any other health issues you have are under control as many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure and other conditions like high cholesterol, sleep apnoea, and thyroid disorders are also often linked with it.
When you manage your overall health, you’ll help keep your blood pressure in check and your diet plays a major part in that.
Not sure if your diet is helping or hurting? Check out the DASH diet and this article can also help.