High Blood Pressure: Dealing Day-to-Day

If you have high blood pressure, there is a good chance your doctor will advise you to adopt certain lifestyle changes to help keep blood pressure from rising. Lifestyle modifications might include losing weight, improving diet and exercise habits, reducing salt intake and quitting smoking.

The following can help you deal with high blood pressure on a day-to-day basis:

  1. Eat healthfully and lose weight
    Obesity causes and aggravates several health problems, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. For many people, weight gain can only be remedied by eating a balanced diet and by getting more exercise in their daily routine.

    Experts recommend a gradual and systematic program of weight loss with a typical goal of losing 10 percent of weight within a six-month period. For example, a person weighing 170 pounds would strive to lose 17 pounds in the next six months. To lose a half pound a week, a person has to reduce daily intake by 250 calories. To lose a pound a week, reduce intake by 500 calories (and so on).
  2. Be wary of supplements
    Consult with your doctor before taking diet pills. Most of these drugs contain caffeinelike stimulants that can do serious harm to the cardiovascular system, such as elevating blood pressure and causing abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Weight loss requires a commitment to a healthful diet and regular exercise.
  3. Follow the DASH plan
    The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has released guidelines designed to help prevent and treat high blood pressure. The guidelines recommend that Americans follow the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan, which involves eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and nonfat dairy products. The NHLBI also recommends several types of lifestyle changes. These include losing excess weight, becoming physically active, limiting alcoholic beverages and following a heart-healthy diet, including cutting back on salt and other forms of sodium.
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