Managing High Blood Pressure

August 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

Untreated (hypertension) can cause a variety of medical problems. High blood pressure increases the risk for a heart attack by up to five times, depending on the severity of the hypertension. High blood pressure is a major cause of heart failure. Among older patients, high blood pressure is the major risk factor for heart disease. People with high blood pressure have up to ten times the normal risk of stroke, depending on the severity of the blood pressure.

Ways to Manage High Blood Pressure

The key to controlling high blood pressure is to make the right choices about your lifestyle. These choices include:

  • What you eat and drink ??? your diet
  • How well you manage the stress in your life
  • Whether or not you smoke or are around smokers
  • How active you are
  • Whether or not you take your prescribed medicines as you should
  • Keeping your weight in a healthy range for you

Your Diet

You should eat a diet that is low in:

  • Saturated fats
  • Sodium (salt)
  • Cholesterol
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol (no more than 2 drinks a day)

If your favorite foods are all high in fat, salt and cholesterol, don???t despair. Dietitians have worked wonders finding ways to let you still have things you like.

Your doctor may suggest you follow the DASH diet plan. This is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan. This is low in saturated fats and high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. The diet includes foods high in potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Stress Management

All of us face stress each day. It???s caused by changes that happen in our lives. All stress is not bad. But, you have to know what stress is bad and what is good.

Learn to handle the stress in your life. You want to let stress help you reach your goals, but not let it consume your life. You have to learn to turn loose of things when there is nothing you can do about them.

Try to be optimistic. Look for the good, not he bad in the changes you face. Relax. Try to laugh and enjoy the events if you can. This can help you manage your stress.

Not Smoking

One of the best things you can do for your heart is not smoke. Smoking makes your blood vessels constrict, raising your blood pressure. It also lowers your good cholesterol One of the best things you can do for your heart is to not smoke. And second-hand smoke is bad for you too.

Exercise

Although when you have heart failure you have to be careful not to over exercise, moderate exercises such as walking and swimming can be very helpful. Your doctor will help you decide how much exercise is right for you.

Never begin an exercise program without consulting your doctor.

If your doctor has okayed your exercise program, any amount of these exercises is useful:

  • Brisk walking
  • Swimming
  • Riding a stationary bicycle
  • Don???t do exercises that make you hold your breath. These make your blood pressure go up:
  • Rowing
  • Lifting moderate weights
  • Any exercise where your arms are over your head and strain

Aerobic exercises help your heart and lungs because they increase your heart rate and oxygen use.?? Doing them every day is best.?? If every day is not possible, try to do 30 minutes of exercise at least 3???4 times a week.

Taking Your Medicines

When changes in your eating habits and other lifestyle changes don???t help lower your high blood pressure, medicine may be needed.

You may be given one or more drugs to treat high blood pressure and it is important to take them when you should and, as you should.?? The best treatment is to keep your blood pressure level and not have it going up and down all the time.?? To do this, your body needs the effect of the drug 24 hours a day.?? Your medicine plan is designed to give you this.

If you have any side effects from taking any medicine, tell your doctor right away.?? The medicine or the dosage may need to be changed.?? Sometimes you may have to try several medicines before finding the right one or ones for you.?? Don???t make changes in your treatment plan. Don???t stop taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

When you have high blood pressure, you should talk with your doctor before you take over-the-counter drugs.?? Some of these contain vasoconstrictors (raise blood pressure by causing blood vessels to narrow).?? And some over-the-counter drugs contain a lot of sodium.?? Others contain caffeine.

Keeping a Healthy Weight

Being overweight adds to the amount of work your heart has do to. If you need to lose weight, your doctor or dietitian can help you with a weight loss plan. By dropping a few pounds you will help reduce your high blood pressure.

As your body weight increases, your blood pressure rises.?? If you are overweight, your doctor will most likely advise you to lose weight.

To do this, you need to use up more calories than you eat.?? If you cut back on the number of calories you eat by 500 a day and do some exercising, you can lose about 1 pound a week.

Your goal is to get your weight within a healthy range. Ask your healthcare provider what is a healthy range for you.

Tags: blood pressure, moderate weights, exercise program, Cholesterol Caffeine Alcohol, high blood pressure

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