(RxWiki News) Written By Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS
Looking to lower your blood pressure?
Try the following 10 steps to manage your blood pressure and improve your heart health for American Heart Month:
1. Get moving. Aim for three or four 40-minute sessions of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. Exercise can lower blood pressure, improve mood, reduce stress, and help with weight loss and flexibility. Before starting an exercise program, speak with your health care provider about what programs are safe for you.
2. Stop smoking. Tobacco is bad for your health and may increase your blood pressure. Ask your pharmacist how he or she can help you stop smoking today.
3. Nix the salt. Too much salt in your diet can increase your blood pressure. Ideally, sodium intake should be no more than 1,500 mg per day. This goal is associated with the greatest reduction in blood pressure.
4. Reduce and manage stress. Reducing and managing stress can help lower your blood pressure. To manage stress and anxiety, try to get enough sleep, take deep breaths and talk to someone.
5. Eat healthy. Focus on lowering your salt intake, and include the following in your diet:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Fat-free or low-fat milk products
- Lean meats, poultry and fish
- Foods low in trans fat, saturated fat and cholesterol
6. Limit alcohol intake. Drinking too much alcohol raises your blood pressure. If you drink alcohol, try to limit your drinking to the following:
- No more than two drinks per day (for men younger than 65)
- One drink per day (for men who are 65 or older and women of all ages)
7. Monitor blood pressure. Measure your blood pressure twice daily. Measure in the morning before eating or taking any medications and again in the evening.
8. Lose weight. Losing weight can help you control your blood pressure and lower your risk of related health problems. Aim for a loss of one to two pounds per week.
9. Take medications as directed. The medications you are prescribed will depend on a variety of factors. Be sure to discuss any problems you may have with your doctor and pharmacist.
10. Limit caffeine intake. Caffeine may increase your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether you should stop or limit your caffeine intake.
Ask your health care provider any questions you have about managing your blood pressure.