About one in three U.S. adults have high blood pressure and aren’t aware of it. Additionally, those who have been diagnosed with hypertension are often tempted to dismiss their diagnosis until this quiet, chronic condition has progressed so far that damages the body. Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to damage and many severe conditions, including:
- Artery damage: leading to narrowed arteries and aneurysm.
- Heart damage: leading to heart attack, coronary artery disease, enlarged heart, and heart failure.
- Brain damage: leading to transient ischemic attack (TIA), stroke, dementia, and cognitive impairment.
- Kidney damage: leading to scarring and kidney failure.
- Eye damage: leading to retinopathy, fluid build-up, and nerve damage.
- Sexual dysfunction.
Make a Plan With Your Doctor
With the severe long-term consequences of uncontrolled hypertension on the line, it’s imperative to talk with your doctor and develop a plan for actively managing your blood pressure. Your plan should aim to reduce the impact of high blood pressure and slow or stall the development of the serious complications. Your provider will help you determine what your target blood pressure should be. However, recent guidelines have set the normal blood pressure at less than 120/80 mmHg.
Your blood pressure changes throughout the day, so to understand your blood pressure clearly, take a reading at the same time every day. An easy way to incorporate this habit into your daily life is to measure your blood pressure when you get up in the morning before any activity. As you follow your management plan, write down your blood pressure so you can spot any trends of an increase or decrease in your blood pressure health.
Seven Lifestyle Factors for Blood Pressure Management
For most people, living with high blood pressure means a treatment plan that includes both medications and lifestyle choices. Your doctor may use a risk calculator to estimate your stroke or heart attack risk to help focus on the best treatment plan for your particular needs. Lifestyle choices play a huge role in managing and lowering hypertension. Here are seven lifestyle factors that can help.
1. Choose a Heart-Health Diet
Studies show that the DASH eating plan combined with lower salt intake is as effective as medication in lowering blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Pressure Institute has eating plans and recipes available to make it as easy as possible to incorporate these changes into your diet.
2. Avoid or Limit Alcohol
Decreasing alcohol consumption can lower the top number (systolic) by up to 5.5 mmHg and the lower number (diastolic) by up to 4 mmHg.
3. Move Your Body Regularly
Regular exercise has many benefits, and lowering and maintaining healthy blood pressure is one of them. Moderate daily exercises like walking, swimming, or cycling are great options for just about anyone. If beginning a daily exercise habit seems overwhelming, start with a goal of walking just 15 minutes a day, every day.
4. Know Your Healthy Weight
If you are overweight, losing 5 – 10% of your initial weight can drastically improve your overall health. Losing 3 – 5% of your weight can benefit your blood pressure. One study analysis showed that a decrease in body weight by 1kg reduced the systolic pressure by 1.2mmHg and the diastolic pressure by 1.0mmHg.
5. Quit Smoking
Smoking causes both short and long term increases in blood pressure. There are many reasons to quit this habit, and your blood pressure health and increased risks of hypertension-related diseases are good reasons to find a way.
6. Manage Stress
Chronic stress increases cortisol in the body, which can increase blood pressure. Additionally, many people turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms in chronic stress situations, which also increases the risk of hypertension and its complications. Using relaxation techniques, exercise, and counseling can help manage stress and reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
7. Learn Good Sleep Habits
The less you sleep, the higher your blood pressure may go. The recommendation for adults is seven to nine hours of sleep a night. But, for those who get less than 6 hours of sleep, their blood pressure may rise more steeply. And over time, lack of sleep can cause hormone changes, leading to high blood pressure. Practice good sleep hygiene habits like a cool and dark bedroom, no electronics 30 minutes before lights out, and using relaxation techniques like a hot shower or stretching.
Changing habits can be difficult, so set yourself up for success by prioritizing one or two changes. Once you’ve successfully incorporated those changes into your daily habits, add a new one. Small changes over time add up to big impacts on your overall health!
Medications for Blood Pressure Management
Sometimes lifestyle changes alone are not enough to control high blood pressure. Your doctor may prescribe medications to work in conjunction with your lifestyle changes to control your blood pressure. Blood pressure medications target different aspects of this condition, so as your doctor works to manage your hypertension, they may prescribe two or more medications. Different medications and their targets include:
- ACE inhibitors and ARBs: keep the blood vessels from narrowing too much.
- Calcium Channel Blockers: allows blood vessels to relax.
- Diuretics: reduce the amount of fluid in the blood.
- Beta Blockers: help the heart beat slower with less force.
High blood pressure is a serious condition to pay attention to and work with your doctor to control. But it doesn’t have to slow you down. In fact, with proper lifestyle changes and prescription medications, you can extend your quality of life for many years!
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care’s personalized in-home care and support services can help you find the best ways to understand your loved one’s healthcare and develop strategies to keep track of their doctor’s care plan. We assist those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.