Hypertension is surprisingly common, affecting 46% of American adults – more than 100 million people.
And this is a serious threat. Hypertension threatens the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and several other health problems. In fact, high blood pressure in the United States and nearly daily results in nearly 1,000 deaths. Even more worrying is that most of these deaths can be prevented. Hypertension is almost always treatable by lifestyle changes and inexpensive medications, but less than half of people with hypertension control it.
Lifestyle and high blood pressure
Experts believe that changing your lifestyle can lower your blood pressure by 50% -90%.
In my practice, if a patient’s blood pressure is mildly elevated and there are no risk factors (such as diabetes, current smoking or a history of heart disease, stroke or multiple cardiac risk factors), I recommend a 3-month lifestyle test. I do. Change as a primary treatment. I know for my patients that many of these changes can be as effective as any single blood pressure medication.
For many of my patients, the likelihood of avoiding medication for life is a powerful stimulus, and they appreciate the sense of control they have over their health.
Here are some specific areas I recommend my patients focus on in order to lower their blood pressure:
Even a moderate level of physical activity can change your blood pressure over time. If you are not used to exercise, start slowly. Five or 10 minutes a day of your favorite activity can be just the beginning of your workout routine and allow you to build up to a maximum of 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of activities recommended by national guidelines.
I recommend eating highly processed foods (packaged foods usually contain high sugar and / or refined grains). Watching salt in high blood pressure is important, but keep in mind that most of the salt in our diets comes from processed foods and restaurants.
It has been proven that losing even 5% of body weight starts to lower blood pressure. And 10% have been shown to significantly improve other health conditions such as atrial fibrillation. The weight loss strategy that I recommend to my patients is a long-term one. Use sustainable power to build better habits. Limited diets may work in the short term, but their results rarely last.
Limited alcohol consumption (less than one drink per day):
A recent study found that people who drink 7-13 drinks a week are 53% more likely to have high blood pressure. Those who drink more than 14 drinks a week have a 69% higher risk of hypertension.
Quitting smoking lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease in the future.
In addition to lifestyle changes, avoid regular anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen and treat sleep apnea.
One of the most enjoyable things to do in my practice is when the patient can lower or even eliminate their blood pressure medication due to a healthier lifestyle choice. If you have high blood pressure, do not miss this powerful treatment.