High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can increase your risk of developing serious health issues. It raises your risk of heart attack and stroke, kidney failure, eye problems, and even erectile dysfunction. Fortunately, it’s easy to know if your blood pressure is high. A quick and simple test performed at the doctor’s office is all that’s needed. You can even measure your blood pressure at home.
Before knowing how to lower blood pressure, it’s helpful to know what’s considered normal or high.
|CATEGORY||SYSTOLIC (TOP #)||AND/OR||DIASTOLIC (BOTTOM #)|
|Normal||Less than 120||and||Less than 80|
|Elevated||120-129||and||Less than 80|
|Hypertension Stage 1||130-139||or||80-89|
|Hypertension Stage 2||140 or higher||or||90 or higher|
Do You Have High Blood Pressure?
If your blood pressure is too high and you need help managing it, see one of our UVA heart and vascular specialists.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure or are trying to avoid a diagnosis, you can take steps to help lower your blood pressure. Many of these involve healthy lifestyle habits that can delay or reduce your need for medication.
10 Ways to Lower Blood Pressure
- Lose weight. If you’re overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight can help.
- Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity, such as walking, swimming, or cycling. Strength training also helps. So try to do that at least twice a week.
- Reduce sodium. Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day (some doctors recommend 1,500 mg or less). Most sodium in people’s diets comes from processed and restaurant foods. Read labels, chose low-sodium options, and season with herbs and spices instead of salt.
- Eat healthy. Consume less saturated fat and cholesterol. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat protein and dairy.
- Manage stress. Find ways to reduce stress
- Address sleep issues. Sleep apnea is a risk factor.
- Quit smoking.
- Lower alcohol consumption. Although drinking alcohol in moderation (1 drink a day for women or 2 for men) may help. Drinking any more than this can increase it.
- Limit caffeine. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. In this case, less is more.
- Take medication as directed. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, see your doctor and take prescribed medications regularly.
© Baldwin Publishing, Inc.