About 1 of 3 U.S. adults — that's approximately 70 million people — have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have high blood pressure, there's some good news. It really is manageable, and keeping it under control means that you can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. That's pretty powerful motivation, isn't it?
You'll need to work with your doctor, who will determine whether you need to go on medication to help lower your blood pressure. But there are things you can do to help manage it.
The CDC explains that reducing the average amount of salt or sodium that people eat from 3,400 milligrams (mg) to 2,300 mg per day may reduce cases of high blood pressure by 11 million. Maybe it's time to take another look at the updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
You don't need to start with (or ever take on) Cross-Fit or Advanced Yoga for People Who Defy Gravity. All you need to do is walk. Aim for 30 minutes a day every day and try to work up to at least a full hour. Go at a brisk pace, but don't overdo it. The goal is to stay active.
Eating certain foods can help to lower your blood pressure. EatingWell's nutrition expert shared top blood-pressure-lowering foods and offers suggestions for how to eat more of them in this video. Check it out:
Additionally, and more generally speaking, the CDC recommends a balanced diet that is — you guessed it — low in salt, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Let your doctor know what you're taking, what you're eating and what type of activities you are doing to help lower your numbers, especially if you are also on medication — because it may need to be adjusted. Monitoring your blood pressure is essential.
You already know the negatives: smoking can give you lung cancer and it can certainly cause high blood pressure. Rather than focus on the grim stats, which may make you feel like you need a cigarette, focus on the positive effects that quitting has on your body. You won't be sorry.