High blood pressure or hypertension (HTN) is a chronic illness in which pressure in the arteries is elevated. The elevated pressure requires your heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood through your blood vessels. If gone untreated, HTN can lead to heart disease, kidney failure or stroke. HTN is rarely caused by one factor. Instead a plurality of factors are often to blame. Many of the causes of HTN are lifestyle related. Consequently, many of the causes of HTN aggravate one another. Therefore a holistic approach is recommended to combat the disease. Below are five ways to effectively treat your high blood pressure.
1. Lose Weight. Carrying around extra weight means extra work for your heart. Losing weight no only lessons the burden on your heart, it also will make any HTN medications you may be taking more effective. Tests have shown that for most patients with HTN losing ten pounds will show a measurable reduction in blood pressure. Not only will you reduce your blood pressure, you look and feel better too. The key is to reduce your weight in healthy manner through a healthy diet and exercise. Consider buying a sphygmomanometer from a reputable retailer of medical equipment. By regularly checking your blood pressure, you will be reminded to take steps to help reduce it. You will also be able to track the effect your weight loss has on your blood pressure, which can be a great motivator as well.
2. Exercise. Before you decide to move on to the next blog, please realize that moderate exercise performed regularly is more effective than strenuous exercise performed sporadically. Many patients try to make up for a lack of exercise by over exerting their first time they strap on some trainers. Don’t make this mistake. Exercise should be fun. Start off slow and pick something appealing to you. A 20-minute walk on the beach or in a park is a great way to start. A fitness ball purchased from an online retailer of medical supplies cost a few dollars and can provide a great and fun workout. As with any fitness program, consult your doctor before you begin. Make sure you create a program geared to help combat your HTN. If you have trouble knowing where to start, consult a trainer who specializes in programs to treat HTN. Just make sure that whatever program you choose, it is something you look forward to do. This is the best way to make sure you keep with the program.
3. Healthy Diet. In our fast paced modern world, it is easy to be seduced into eating fast food. Fast food is quick, relatively inexpensive and filling. If you eat a steady diet of fast food your taste buds will grow accustomed to its high fat and sodium content. Once accustomed to the high fat/salt content of fast food, healthy food is likely to taste bland and unsatisfying. Consequently, people with HTN are resistant to dietary changes. They are willing to try exercising. Exercise makes them feel empowered, and that they are actively combating their HTN. On the other hand, eating healthy often feels like a negative. You are refraining from the food you like. Moreover, you may not know how to prepare healthy meals or enough different options to keep you satisfied. To overcome this obstacle, the same advice as exercise applies to your diet. Start slow. Do your research and start with one healthy meal. Over time you will replace your high fat / salt diet with healthy low fat options. The key is to do your research and make it fun.
4. Less Alcohol / Quit Smoking. Drinking alcohol in excess will raise your blood pressure several points and binge drinking can cause large and sudden increases in your blood pressure. In addition to the direct benefits of reducing your blood pressure, drinking less is also part of a healthier lifestyle. Alcohol is high in “empty calories.” That is to say, the calories in alcohol have no nutritional value. In addition, alcohol’s effect on your judgment often results in bad food choices. Such as eating a platter of nachos supreme instead of say preparing some sushi rolls. In short, alcohol often makes exercising and eating healthy more difficult. Smoking is also a major risk factor for HTN. The nicotine in tobacco products can significantly raise your blood pressure. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, avoid areas where you will be exposed to second hand smoke for significant amounts of time. You are working toward a healthy lifestyle. Avoiding smoke is part of that choice.
5. Reduce Stress. Many HTN patients report that this is the hardest change to make. Most people can’t just tell themselves to relax. If you are stressed out, there is a reason, and ignoring that reason will not make it go away. If you followed the first four suggestions above, you are well on your way to less stress. Alcohol is a depressant, and nicotine addiction affects your mood. Exercising is a great stress releaser and it will make you feel better too. Eating healthy will make you feel better and give you more energy. Once you have made these positive changes in your life, attacking stress will be easier. There is plenty of literature on the subject. To summarize, most advise you to identify the stress factors in your life. Once identified, you should investigate if you can eliminate them or reduce their affect on you. Taking a proactive approach to stress management will go a long way in reducing the negative effects of stress on your HTN. It will generally make you happier as well.
The above suggestions are a holistic approach to manage your HTN. A multitude of factors have led to your high blood pressure and a holistic approach is the best way to treat it. Be sure to consult with your doctor in regard to all these recommendations. If necessary your doctor can prescribe medications to help control your HTN until your lifestyle changes are able to take hold. The best part of making these changes is that they will not only reduce your blood pressure, but also improve your quality of life.
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