Tips to help you control your high blood pressure
Make sure your blood pressure is under 140/90 mm Hg
If your systolic pressure is over 140, ask your doctor what you can do to lower it.
If you have diabetes it is even more important to maintain your blood pressure at an acceptable level, which reduces long-term complications associated with this disease process. You should be receiving regular monitoring and advice from you GP/diabetic practitioner.
Aim for a healthy weight
Ideally try not to gain extra weight in the first place, if you have then try to lose the weight slowly, at about half to one pound a week until you reach a healthy target. This can be easier to achieve if you include exercise as well to burn off those unwanted calories and tone your body as you lose the weight.
If you are overweight or obese, carrying this extra weight increases your risk of high blood pressure because the heart has to work very hard to keep blood circulating efficiently.
Exercise - be active every day!
Even the simplest exercise will help; you can walk, dance, use the stairs, play sports, or do any activity you enjoy. For instance: get off the bus one or two stops early; park your car at the other end of the car park and walk; walk or cycle to the corner shop.
Being physically active is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent or control high blood pressure and will help you keep your weight down. It will also help to reduce your risk of heart disease and enhances overall wellbeing. All you need to do is 30 minutes of moderate level activity preferably every day of the week - you can even divide the 30 minutes into shorter 10 minute periods if you are not used to regular exercise.
Exercise does not have to be strenuous; you should start slowly and build up the amount of exercise that you do.
It is not advisable, however, to lift heavy weights or to take on certain strenuous activities if exercise has not been gradually and appropriately introduced. If you are worried that your health could be adversely affected by exercise, i.e. you have a heart complaint; make sure that you are reviewed by your GP.
Look at what you are eating. Does it contain a lot of sodium?
It is suggested that no more than 2.4 grams of sodium should be consumed per day. Read the labels and be aware of hidden sodium, which is known to increase blood pressure. Try not to add salt to your meals.
Eat more fruit and vegetables
Eating more fiber should help to stop you feeling hungry and less likely to pick at sweets, chocolate and crisps etc.
Stop/reduce smoking - smoking causes the blood to thicken
Not only does this make you more at risk of developing a dangerous blood clot but it makes the heart work harder in order to 'push' the blood around the system to provide oxygen and other important components.
Reduce your stress levels
Take time out for yourself each day to do something you like to do without feeling guilty. If there are any problems worrying you try talking them over with a friend, or someone you trust, this is often all that is needed to make you feel better. Also remember if you wear a smile, it will rub off on others. Try it and see!
Watch your alcohol intake
Keep the amount of units you consume to a minimum, as your body works hard to flush it out of your system and this will have an effect on your blood pressure (plus it will increase your weight).
It is recommended that men limit themselves to no more than one or two drinks per day and women should have no more than one drink per day.
Take medication correctly
If you have been prescribed medication from your GP to control your blood pressure, make sure that you take the medication correctly and visit your GP regularly for your blood pressure to be monitored effectively.