How To Stay Healthy while Living With Hypertension

March 31, 2022

Most of us will experience high blood pressure (hypertension) at some point in our lives. This is a common ailment which can develop over time if you do not take the right steps to stop and prevent it. While many people think that high blood pressure could lead to death, this is not always true. You will still be able to live a normal life, but you need to do things differently. This article gives a breakdown on how to deal with hypertension and how to stay healthy and happy.

Learn more about hypertension.

Most people think of high blood pressure as an old person's disease. But the truth is, it can affect anyone at any age. When it comes to your health, prevention is the best medicine. The longer you wait to get treatment, the harder it will be to bring your blood pressure down.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. It is also a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure, blindness and other complications if left untreated.

The number of Americans affected by hypertension is on the rise, with nearly 50 million people estimated to have high blood pressure. Many of them don't even know it.

The Heart Foundation's chief executive Kate Carnell says that many people with high blood pressure are unaware of the riskiness associated with the condition and the damage it can cause over time.

"We need to raise awareness about this condition and its associated symptoms among members of the community," she said in a statement. "It's important that people know what they can do to reduce the risk."

There are a wide range of treatments available for people with high blood pressure, including medication and lifestyle changes such as weight loss, stress management and exercise. With a little work, you can stay healthy while living with hypertension.

Work with your doctor.

Having high blood pressure means the pressure of the blood in your blood vessels is higher than it should be. But you can take steps to control your blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

If you have high blood pressure, your heart must work harder to pump blood through your body. This causes damage to your heart and makes it work less efficiently. High blood pressure can also increase your risk of having a stroke or developing kidney disease.

By working with your doctor, you can create a plan together that lowers your risk by making some lifestyle changes and taking medication. You can be able to bring your blood pressure under control, protect yourself from the dangers of uncontrolled high blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Go by your numbers.

Your blood pressure is considered high when you have consistent systolic readings of 140 mm Hg or higher or diastolic readings of 90 mm Hg or higher. Based on research, your doctor may also consider you to have high blood pressure if you are an adult or child aged 13 or older who has consistently high blood pressure readings of 130/80 mm Hg or higher.

If your blood pressure is above the normal range for up to 2 readings (taken at different visits), your doctor will likely take a third reading to confirm the diagnosis. If the average of these three readings is more than 140/90 mm Hg, you will be diagnosed with high blood pressure.

High blood pressure usually does not cause symptoms, so it's important to get regular checkups.

A plate of healthy fruit

Watch what you eat.

We all know that eating a healthy diet is good for our bodies, but it’s also important for managing our blood pressure. That’s especially true if you’re living with hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.

Dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet is an eating plan to lower or control high blood pressure. The DASH diet promotes a variety of foods that are helpful for lowering blood pressure. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free/low-fat dairy products. The DASH diet also limits foods that are high in saturated fats, including fatty meats, full-fat dairy products and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel and palm oils, as well as sugary foods and beverages. By following DASH diet, you can lower your blood pressure by about 5 points within two weeks.

Doctors and researchers have found that certain foods can improve blood pressure. These include foods that are rich in potassium, magnesium, fiber, and protein.

Here are some of the best foods for high blood pressure:

Avocados. The flesh of this pear-shaped fruit is rich in monounsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol levels. Avocados are also packed with potassium, with nearly twice as much per ounce as bananas.

Low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. These dairy products are an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D, which help keep bones strong and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Plus, the protein in low-fat or fat-free milk can help keep you full longer.

Beans and lentils. Beans and lentils are a great source of protein and a good substitute for meat in any meal. They're also high in fiber, which can make you feel full faster and longer. Plus, they contain magnesium and potassium to help lower your blood pressure.

Exercise.

It's common for people with high blood pressure to take medications to lower their blood pressure. However, exercise is an important part of life, too. It can help you lose excess weight and reduce your high blood pressure.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days per week for a total of 150 minutes. Moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, swimming and mowing the lawn. Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity includes activities such as running and aerobic dancing. The AHA recommends at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

In addition to aerobic activity, the AHA recommends strengthening exercises at least two days per week. Examples include lifting free weights and using resistance bands.

If you haven't been active recently, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. Your doctor can recommend activities that are appropriate for your condition and fitness level.

Limit alcohol consumption.

If you have hypertension, consider limiting alcohol consumption.

It's not a good idea to go cold turkey, however. If you're used to drinking regularly, cutting back too quickly can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and shaky hands.

Start with one drink per day for women and two for men. Alternate alcoholic beverages with nonalcoholic ones so that you don't exceed your daily limit.

If you choose wine, keep in mind that 5 ounces of wine is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (such as vodka, cognac or rum).

Even if your blood pressure isn't high, drinking too much increases your risk of developing the condition. It also puts you at increased risk of other health problems, including heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver and certain cancers

Reduce stress.

If you have high blood pressure, it's important to reduce stress in your life. Unrelenting stress can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Over time, the stress hormone cortisol can narrow your arteries, which increases your risk for high blood pressure.

There are many ways to reduce stress. For example, try the following:

Have fun and enjoy life more. Go out with friends, spend time with family and pets, watch movies and read books that help you laugh. Laughter may help lower your blood pressure.

Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. If you're not sleeping well, talk to your doctor about ways to get better sleep.

Relaxation techniques may help you learn how to respond more calmly when you feel stressed out. This can lower your blood pressure as much as taking medication would. Relaxation techniques include meditation, deep breathing exercises or guided imagery.

Quitting smoking.

Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health and lower your risk of heart disease.

The benefits of quitting smoking start immediately. After just 20 minutes, your blood pressure and heart rate have already begun to drop.

In fact, when you quit for good, your risk for a heart attack drops dramatically within the first year. Over time, the benefits continue to grow. You’re less likely to have a stroke, and you may gain up to years back in life expectancy.

It’s never too late to quit smoking! Even if you’ve been smoking for years, quitting can make a difference in your health. Your body will begin repairing itself right away — even if you’re already experiencing negative effects from smoking.

Create a support network of family and friends.

You are not alone. Lifestyle changes, medications and stress management can help you cope with hypertension and meet your goals for healthy living.

Family and friends can also provide emotional support when you're facing challenges in managing hypertension. Research shows that people who have strong social support from family, friends or religious groups tend to have lower blood pressure than those who do not feel supported by others.

One of the most important parts of managing your high blood pressure is to make sure you have a strong support system. This includes people who will support you emotionally, as well as those who can help you with practical tasks.

What to look for in a support system

When trying to manage hypertension and make significant lifestyle changes, it's helpful to turn to friends and family who can help you succeed. Ideally, these people should be:

  • supportive of your goals
  • open and honest with you
  • willing to learn about your condition and what is needed to manage it
  • able to offer assistance when needed

Hypertension should not keep you from living a normal life.

Hypertension should not keep you from living a normal life, but you will have to live differently to stay healthy.

You will need to take your medicine every day, even when you feel fine, and make sure your blood pressure is checked regularly.

You will also need to watch what you eat and drink, and how much salt you eat. You will also have to be more active.

A healthy lifestyle along with the medicine can keep your blood pressure in control for the rest of your life.

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