May is High Blood Pressure Education Awareness Month. Did you know that nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure? High blood pressure can lead to serious health risks including heart attack and stroke. In addition to medication, there are several other measures you can take to reduce or maintain optimal blood pressure. Here are some tips to lower blood pressure:
Know your numbers — First and foremost, it’s very important to know your blood pressure. High blood pressure is oftentimes asymptomatic so awareness is key. The best way to know your blood pressure is to take it yourself twice a day — but no more than that. Take it two hours after breakfast and one hour after dinner. Keep a record of these numbers and take them to your physician to discuss.
Make sure you are taking your blood pressure properly — For an accurate reading, rest five minutes before taking your blood pressure. Keep both feet on the floor and do not talk to anyone. It has been said that 70% of blood pressure readings in doctors’ offices are inaccurate, often higher. Caffeine, smoking, physical activity, and talking will also falsely increase your blood pressure.
Incorporate a healthy diet — a healthy diet can have a huge impact on your blood pressure. Avoid fried foods and sugar and aim to broil, grill or bake when cooking. The Mediterranean diet is known to be one of the best for your heart (think extra virgin olive oil, fish, nuts, olives, and avocados to name a few). Check out our heart health recipes for meal ideas and inspiration.
Exercise regularly — regular exercise is very important for stabilizing blood pressure. Find an exercise partner to hold you accountable and to make it more fun!
Meditate — meditation plays an important role in overall health and can decrease other symptoms associated with high blood pressure such as stress, anxiety and depression. Check out some simple yoga exercises to get you started.
It’s important to be aware of your blood pressure because hypertension can lead to other serious health risks. Check out our blog posts on heart health and ways to lead a healthy lifestyle to take control of your blood pressure today.