Debra Wood, RN
Modifying your lifestyle may help you control your blood pressure and decrease your risk of
coronary heart disease
The most important lifestyle factors for managing hypertension include:
Losing as little as 10 pounds can help decrease your heart’s workload and lower your blood pressure. Follow the dietary and exercise plans recommended by your doctor. To lose weight, consume fewer calories than you expend. To maintain a
healthy weight, balance the number of calories you consume with the number you expend.
Drinking too much alcohol
increases blood pressure and can lead to other heart problems. Moderate alcohol intake, however, is not associated with high blood pressure. Moderate alcohol intake is two drinks or fewer per day for men and one drink or fewer per day for women.
Talk to your doctor if you need help reducing your alcohol intake, or quitting drinking entirely.
can increase the amount of fatty material that collects in your arteries and may contribute to elevated blood pressure readings. Ask your doctor for strategies to
A diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol is usually also rich in
fruits, and vegetables. All these things will help lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body weight—all of which leads to a healthier heart. Follow the meal plan recommended by your doctor, or ask for a referral to a registered dietitian.
A study called Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension has found that certain healthful eating patterns can reduce blood pressure. This is called the
DASH diet. Findings from the second phase of the study, called DASH-Sodium, indicate that cutting salt intake is another effective way to lower blood pressure.
If your doctor has ordered medications to lower your blood pressure, take them exactly as directed. Do not skip pills or stop taking them without the advice of your doctor. Report any side effects to your doctor.
Tell your doctor about all the mediations you take, including over-the-counter remedies and
herbal supplements. Some drugs or supplements can interfere with blood pressure medications or increase your blood pressure.
Choose exercises you enjoy and will make a regular part of your day. Strive to maintain an exercise program that keeps you fit and at a healthful weight. For many people, this includes walking or participating in another aerobic activity for 30 minutes per day. Exercise also can help you manage stress. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
does not cause hypertension, hormones released by your body when you are under stress can increase your blood pressure. Take time out to relax, exercise, and practice relaxation techniques.
Contact your doctor if you have any questions about recommended lifestyle changes or you need help making some of these changes in your life.
High blood pressure.
American Heart Association
website. Available at:
http://www.americanheart.org/. Accessed June 18, 2009.
High blood pressure. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
website. Available at:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Hbp/HBP_WhatIs.html. Updated November 2008. Accessed June 18, 2009.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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