7 healthy lifestyle changes to manage high blood pressure

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If you have high blood pressure, your provider may recommend that you adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle to help lower and control high blood pressure.

Choose heart-healthy foods such as those in the DASH eating plan. Research has shown that DASH combined with a low-salt eating plan can be as effective as medicines in lowering high blood pressure.

Avoid or limit alcohol. Talk to your provider about how much alcohol you drink. You may need to limit it or stop drinking.

Resources and support are available at the Alcohol Treatment Navigator from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Get regular physical activity. Many health benefits result from getting the recommended amount of physical activity each week.

Studies have shown that physical activity can help lower and control high blood pressure levels.

Even modest amounts of physical activity may help. Before starting any exercise program, ask your healthcare provider what level of activity is right for you.

Aim for a healthy weight. If you are an adult who is living with overweight or obesity, losing 5% to 10% of your initial weight over 6 months can improve your health. Even losing just 3% to 5% of your weight can improve blood pressure.

Quit smoking. Both Smoking and Your Heart and Your Guide to a Healthy Heart focus on heart health and include basic information about how to quit smoking.

For free help and support to quit smoking, you can call the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).

Manage stress. Learning how to manage stress and cope with problems can improve your mental and physical health. Learning relaxation techniques, talking to a counselor, and finding a support group can all help.

Get enough good-quality sleep. The recommended amount for adults is 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day.

Develop healthy sleep habits by going to sleep and getting up at regular times, following a calming bedtime routine, and keeping your bedroom cool and dark.

Changing habits can be hard. To help make lifelong heart-healthy changes, try making one change at a time. Add another change when you feel comfortable with the previous one.

You’re more likely to manage your blood pressure when you practice several of these healthy lifestyle habits together and can keep them up over time.

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If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about food that could help lower risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and this diet could help reduce high blood pressure in older people.

For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies about why people with high blood pressure more likely to have severe COVID-19, and results showing scientists find an important but ignored cause of high blood pressure.

Source: NHLBI