A high blood pressure diagnosis can make you think medicine is necessary and eternal. But it isn’t. Blood pressure is highly responsive to lifestyle, and certain controllable factors can lead to lower blood pressure.
Living a heart-healthy lifestyle has the potential to reduce or manage blood pressure and may allow you to avoid, delay, or reduce the need for medical treatment.
Some of the things you can do to help manage your blood pressure include:
Losing Fat Around the Waistline: Blood pressure tends to go up as weight does. Fat can increase the risk for sleep apnea and put more pressure on your blood vessels.
Fat around the mid-section can be of particular importance, as dangerous waistline fat is closely associated with high blood pressure. Men are at greater risk for high blood pressure when their waist is more than 40 inches, and the same is true for women whose waist measures more than 35 inches.
The good thing is that even modest weight reductions can lead to lower blood pressure. Generally, for every 2.2 pounds a person loses, their blood pressure may go down by about 1 millimeter of mercury (mm Hg).
Regular Exercise: Getting about 150 minutes of exercise per week can also contribute to healthy blood pressure. Broken down to roughly 30 minutes per day, regular exercise can lower blood pressure by 5 to 8 mm Hg.
Diet: Eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, less processed foods, and less sodium can lower blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg. Look to the Mediterranean or DASH diets for an idea of how to manage blood pressure with diet.
Limit Alcohol: Too much alcohol, more than roughly one drink per day for women and two for men, can make arteries harder. This makes it more difficult to promote blood flow. Keeping an eye on intake can help keep blood pressure in a healthy range.
These aren’t all the lifestyle factors that can help you manage blood pressure (stress and sleep can, too), but they offer a place to start.