Ask Accordia: Hypertension, or high blood pressure
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My doctor told me my blood pressure is on the high side and I need to get my numbers down or I will have to take medication to lower it. I want to avoid medication if possible. What can I do to lower my blood pressure without taking prescriptions?
Having hypertension, or high blood pressure as it is more commonly called, can lead to some serious health issues, like a heart attack or stroke.
It’s important to know your numbers – known as systolic (the top number) and diastolic (the bottom one) – and to keep tabs on your blood pressure, especially if you are at an elevated risk.
The American Heart Association recommends a blood pressure of less than 120/80.
Someone with high blood pressure typically falls into one of three stages – stage 1 is between 130-139/80-89; stage 2 is 140-180/90-120; and stage 3 is higher than 180 for the top number and more than 120 for the bottom one. Anyone with a reading in the stage 3 level should seek emergency medical care immediately.
It sounds like, from your question, that you are in the “elevated” category, meaning your blood pressure is running 120-129 systolic and less than 80 diastolic. And, yes, there are some things you can do, aside from prescription medication, to get those numbers down in the normal range.
Here are a few lifestyle changes you can make to get your elevated blood pressure under control:
- Drop some pounds: Weight loss – even just a few pounds – has been proven to help control blood pressure.
- Move it: Aim for about 30 minutes of physical activity most days. Try walking, biking or aerobics classes. Strength training is good, too.
- Eat smart: Make sure your diet is rich in whole grains, fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy. Be mindful of foods with high saturated fat.
- Skimp on salt: Reduce your sodium intake. Check labels on food for sodium content and aim for less than 1,500 mg per day.
- No smoking: If you smoke, take steps to quit. Your blood pressure increases each time you light up. Quitting will also reduce your risk for heart disease.
- Don’t stress: Easier said than done, but try to reduce the stress levels in your life. Try some tactics to de-stress like yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises.
As you implement lifestyle changes to decrease your blood pressure, you may see other areas of your health improve, as well – for example, losing some weight will alleviate pressure on your joints, and regular exercise and a better diet can help with stress and sleep.
Continue to monitor your blood pressure as directed by your physician and keep a log of the date, time and reading, as well as any factors at the time (for example, you had a stressful work meeting before taking your blood pressure) to discuss with your physician. Hopefully, by incorporating some of the tips listed above, you will get your blood pressure under control without medication.
To schedule an appointment with one of our providers, you can reach us at 256-377-8008. You can find us at 9518 U.S. Highway 231 in Rockford, Alabama 35136.
Accordia Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center. Accordia accepts all patients, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay, and offers a wide variety of services through a sliding fee discount program based on family size and income. We also accept Medicare, Medicaid, ALL Kids, and most private insurance.