According to the CDC, nearly half of adults in the U.S. have hypertension. While medications are available to help manage this medical condition, some of the most effective and research-backed strategies to manage hypertension include making healthy lifestyle changes.
Krishna Upadhyaya, MD, a cardiologist with Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin explains what hypertension is and how living a healthy lifestyle can help you manage your hypertension.
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure, and it is categorized into four levels:
- Normal: below 120/80
- Elevated: 120 to 129/less than 80
- Stage 1 high blood pressure: 130 to 139/80 to 89
- Stage 2 high blood pressure: 140 and above/90 and above
While there are a variety of medications available to help you manage your hypertension, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to help control it.
Lifestyle changes that help manage hypertension
One of the challenges with high blood pressure is that you don’t necessarily experience symptoms for many years, making it hard to adopt a new lifestyle or start taking medications since symptoms aren’t really felt.
However, some of the most effective and research-backed strategies are weight loss, reduced intake of salt, enhanced intake of potassium, physical activity, moderate to no alcohol intake, and a healthy diet such as the DASH diet, which focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat.
Doing these things can not only help you manage your hypertension but may also help you avoid taking blood pressure medications.
Small steps can make a big impact
If you or a loved one are looking to make lifestyle changes to help manage hypertension, consider setting realistic and achievable goals. For example, if you are looking to lose weight to help manage your hypertension, you can set a goal of losing 5-7 pounds over a 3-month period. This is much less daunting than setting a goal to lose 20 pounds.
It is also helpful to get your family members involved. Try to make it a family effort to add more vegetables to meals and go on walks together. It is easier to maintain lifestyle changes when the whole family is involved.
Talk to a doctor who listens
Care for your heart shouldn’t wait. Cardiologists and care teams at Ascension Wisconsin deliver personalized care for your heart and vascular health. Learn more and find a cardiologist who’s right for you at ascension.org/WisconsinHeart