A healthy blood pressure level is below 120/80 mm Hg for most people.
According to the new blood pressure guideline, measurement higher than 130/80 mm Hg indicates high blood pressure or hypertension.
If your blood pressure level is between the normal range and hypertension, you may have a condition called prehypertension.
Both hypertension and prehypertension may raise your risk for many health problems.
These health problems could include stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, and heart failure. People with prehypertension may show early signs of stiffening of the arteries.
Scientists from Vanderbilt University suggest that lifestyle changes are the best ways to avoid the condition. Here are 7 lifestyle changes you can try.
Keep a healthy weight
This is one of the best ways to lower your blood pressure without taking medicine.
Exercise on a regular basis. Try to be more active during the day, even if you’re at a healthy weight.
For example, pace while talking on the phone. Or you can play with your children instead of watching TV.
Research has shown that exercise can slightly lower your blood pressure.
It can also help you lose weight, even if you don’t cut back on calories. People who exercise burn calories better than those who don’t exercise.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can help you lower your blood pressure. It doesn’t call for special foods. It provides a mixture of foods rich in minerals and vitamins.
DASH diet also limits the amount of saturated fats and cholesterol you eat.
It’s a plan that includes a number of servings from a variety of food groups, including vegetables and fruits, fat-free or low-fat milk, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts.
Eat less sodium
Limit how much salt (sodium) you get each day to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg). This can help lower systolic (first, or top number) blood pressure by up to 8 points.
You also need to pay attention to prepared or canned foods. Reading food labels and nutritional labels can remind you to control your sodium intake.
Get more potassium
Adults in the U.S. don’t eat enough potassium. They should have 4,700 mg every day. But they eat about 2,000 mg less than that. Enough potassium intake is linked to lower blood pressure.
Foods rich in potassium include cantaloupe, banana, orange juice, raw baby carrots, skim milk, nonfat yogurt, and some salt substitutes.
Reduce alcohol drinking
If you drink, do so only in moderation. That means no more than 2 drinks daily if you’re a man and 1 if you’re a woman.
One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 4 or 5 ounces of wine, or a single 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor. All supply about 0.5 ounces of alcohol.
Smoking can raise blood pressure. If you smoke 20 to 30 times a day, the amount of time your blood pressure is raised quickly adds up. This can put you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
Smoking can be very unsafe for women who take birth control pills. The pill can raise a woman’s blood pressure by 2 or 3 points no matter her age.
If she already has blood pressure that is a little high, being on the pill and smoking can lead to stroke. That’s even true for women as young as age 20.
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