Changing your lifestyle is not an easy feat, nor is it going to be a smooth journey. But when you are living with hypertension, making these changes can make the difference between easy management or an unhealthy and difficult life.
The first step, of course, is to have a consultation with your doctor. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of hypertension or any other chronic ailment, your doctor can help you identify the causes behind them. Depending on the factors contributing to your condition, you can start making lifestyle changes. You should also ensure that you have a complete check-up done before starting any diet or exercise program.
A common mistake that a lot of people make is trying out a diet or an exercise program because it worked for someone else. No two people’s bodies are alike and they never react the same way. So err on the side of caution and start slowly with making healthy changes and stick with what works for you.
That being said, here are some lifestyle changes that can help you manage your condition.
The Link Between Weight, Health and Hypertension
As with most chronic ailments, losing weight is the first step that most doctors recommend. While the relationship between weight and health is complicated, it is proven that having a higher fat percentage puts more pressure on their body.
Losing weight by eating better and exercising can make a great impact on controlling blood pressure. Most experts also say that people who tend to carry more weight around their waist, are at greater risk for high blood pressure.
A Little Activity Goes A Long Way
Exercise is also the simplest way to improve your overall health. Working out is a great way to burn calories, lose weight, get the blood pumping, and generally raise the feelings of well-being in a person. It is recommended that you should workout at least 30-60 minutes a day. No matter what form of exercise you choose to do, consistency is the only way to see results.
If you experience hypertension, exercise can bring blood pressure down considerably. Aerobic activities like running, cycling, or dancing are some of the commonly loved exercises that can help. Strength training is also recommended to build more strength in the muscles and boost the metabolic system.
Dietary Precautions That Doctors Recommend
When it comes to diet, one that is rich in whole grains and fresh produce can help lower your blood pressure. You should also ensure that they reduce the amount of dairy, saturated fats and cholesterol that goes into their food. This is basically what is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
If following dietary restrictions is hard for you, ensure that you find tactics that can help you. This can be anything from keeping a food journal, using a diet tracking app to even getting a fitness coach. You should also learn to educate yourself better about the meals that you consume. From packaged items to restaurant favourites, there are chances of hidden cholesterol or saturated fats that you should be vary of.
Lesser The Salt, Better Your Health
Reducing the amount of sodium intake has shown to improve heart health and manage blood pressure. Excessive salt intake has been shown to lead to increased blood pressure, which in turn can narrow the blood vessels. This narrowing makes the heart pump harder to keep its functions going, leading to even further elevation in blood pressure. If this is left unchecked, it can lead to heart problems and even stroke.
Reducing your sodium intake can lower the blood pressure, especially when it’s supplemented with an intake of potassium. Potassium has the power to lower the effect that sodium has blood pressure. Eating more food that is naturally high in potassium can help in managing your sodium levels from affecting your blood pressure too much.
Even when you’re buying snacks or any processed food items, you should read the labels and choose low-sodium alternatives, wherever possible.
Gain Control Over Your Vices
Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine usage is a trifecta of bad habits that can have an impact on a patient’s blood pressure. While there are some studies that say that consuming a moderate amount of alcohol could potentially lower blood pressure, the verdict is still out on it. Excessive drinking can, of course, raise the blood pressure by several points. It can also reduce the effect of hypertension medicines.
Smoking is a habit that can directly have an impact on your blood pressure. A single cigarette can cause your blood pressure to increase for a few minutes immediately after smoking. Quitting this can significantly reduce the risk for heart conditions, hypertension and can improve overall health.
While caffeine may not be as bad for the body as the above two, it can be considered a habit that should be given up. In people who rarely consume caffeine, the blood pressure can rise even by 10mm Hg, but won’t have much of any effect on regular consumers.
If you’re concerned that your daily cup of coffee is affecting your blood pressure, you should try checking your blood pressure within the first thirty minutes of having it. If there is a significant rise in blood pressure, you should consider talking to your doctor about this and eventually switching out coffee for something more soothing.
Don’t Stress Out, Get Help
Everyone needs help – the sooner you realise this and get the help you need, the easier your life becomes. This can be in terms of managing your stress, learning how to track your blood pressure at home, or even in terms of emotional support from your family.
Chronic stress is a big contributor to high blood pressure, especially since it can be the root cause of bad habits like binge eating, smoking, drinking or even substance abuse. Taking the time to analyse your life and figuring out the biggest stressor is the first step to make.
If possible, you should consider removing this stressor from your life or finding a more fruitful way of handling it. You should get help from a mental health expert if needed, and try not to expect too much out of yourself. Committing to too many things, or expecting too much out of oneself is usually the most common stressor that people experience. You should also take time to participate in activities that you enjoy and can help you relax.
Let Routine Monitoring Guide You
If you’re having trouble managing your hypertension, make use of healthcare devices to track your blood pressure daily. This has been proven to create better health outcomes in the long run. Routine self-monitoring when paired with the above-mentioned lifestyle changes can help you keep tracking of how these changes are affecting your health and can alert your doctor of any concerns.
Having regular doctor visits are also an important part of managing your condition. Based on how well you are managing your condition in between appointments, the doctor will adjust your medicines. They’ll also be able to provide any other assistance that you need, whether it is answering your queries or helping you find ways to better manage your conditions.
Find Comfort In Loved Ones
Last but not the least, having emotional support from your family has a very important role in effectively managing any condition. With their encouragement and support, you will be able to follow your treatment better, be more committed to your lifestyle changes and even help out in reducing your stress. You could also consider joining support groups with other people who are going through your condition and know what you’re dealing with.
If you’re not diagnosed with hypertension but experiences high blood pressure, these tips will help you to reduce your risk and prevent chronic hypertension from taking hold. Managing any chronic condition requires a lot of dedication and effort from a patient and these are the best tips that they can follow to address them. While these are generic advice, they are time tested and proven to help patients in effectively managing their hypertension.
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