High blood pressure is a common condition that can lead to serious health problems including heart disease. It’s sometimes referred to as the ‘silent killer’ since you can suffer from high blood pressure for years without realizing it. Fortunately it’s easy to detect, and once you know you have high blood pressure you can work with your doctor or nurse to keep it under control. There are also many useful blood pressure tips you can use, including the following.

Regular readings essential for detecting high blood pressure

You will probably have your blood pressure taken as part of a routine doctor’s appointment. In any case make sure you have a pressure reading at least every two years from the age of 18. If you have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure you will require more frequent readings. You can also buy a home use blood pressure monitor – it’s a good idea to write readings down over a period of time to give you a good overall indication. If you have blood pressure of over 140/90 mm Hg you will be diagnosed with high blood pressure.

To prepare for your blood pressure measurement, bring along a list of current meds, and inform the doctor of any family history of high blood pressure. Be prepared to discuss you diet and exercise habits, since, if you are diagnosed with high BP your doctor may recommend changes and offer you blood pressure tips to help you control the condition.

Lifestyle blood pressure tips

    • Primary lines of defense against high blood pressure are quitting smoking, eating healthily, and becoming more physically active. The Mayo Clinic recommends trying a diet system known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. This involves eating more vegetables, whole grains, fruit and low fat dairy products. Increasing levels of potassium can be helpful in preventing and controlling high blood pressure too.
    • Decrease the salt in your diet. 1.5 mg a day is sufficient for people aged 51 and over, while healthy people under this age can have up to 2.3 mg. Reduce the amount of salt you put on food, and keep an eye on the salt content of processed foods.
    • Maintain a healthy weight, if you’re overweight losing even a few pounds can bring down blood pressure.
    • Manage stress by incorporating relaxation techniques into your life – yoga, meditation and getting plenty of sleep helps too. Practice slow breathing techniques – there are some devices available that can help you breathe better for relaxation purposes.

You may also be prescribed blood pressure medications depending on your stage of high blood pressure and whether you have other medical problems. Some common types of medications include diuretics, or water pills that act on the kidneys, helping your body to eliminate sodium and water, thereby reducing blood volume. These are often but not always the first choice of medications. Beta blockers work to reduce the workload on your heart and open blood vessels. ACE inhibitors relax blood vessels by blocking the formation of the chemical that narrows blood vessels.

You may have to fine-tune your medications over time, because of side-effects or efficacy. If you act on your doctor’s recommendations, and use common-sense blood pressure tips you’re very likely to be able to control and maintain a healthy blood pressure.

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