Although there are several medications available to treat high blood pressure, experts say, with simple lifestyle changes, you can control with without medication— even if you have a genetic predisposition. Plus, small improvements in your numbers can make a huge difference in your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Here are 13 ways to prevent and control high blood pressure.
1. Know your numbers.
Blood pressure of 120 over 80 is the ideal for healthy people. Yet for those who have high blood pressure, new guidelines published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association say blood pressure targets of 140 over 90 or below are ok.
If you have high blood pressure, your physician may recommend you check your levels every day. For most healthy people however, at the yearly physical and a few times throughout the year is enough.
2. Get your own blood pressure cuff.
In addition to getting your blood pressure checked at your doctor’s office, it’s a good idea to check it at home, too. Experts agree the “white coat phenomenon,” or angst in the doctor’s office, can cause your numbers to rise.
“The ideal way to do it is at home in bed when you wake up,” said Dr. Jonny Bowden, a board-certified nutritionist and author of “The Great Cholesterol Myth.” Purchase a cuff at any drugstore or get one that syncs with an app.
3. Nix the processed foods.
Surprisingly, consuming too much sodium may not raise your blood pressure.
“Sodium is overrated. Most people are not salt sensitive,” Bowden said.
Nevertheless, experts agree it’s a good idea to reduce your intake to 2,000 milligrams or less a day. Processed foods are the most significant and sneaky sources of sodium, which is why it’s a good idea to cut them out of your diet altogether.
4. Eat more vegetables.
Studies show that the more potassium in the diet, the lower blood pressure is. The best sources of potassium are in vegetables, so aim to get upwards of nine servings a day.