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5 Tips for Keeping Your Blood Pressure in Check

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5 Tips for Keeping Your Blood Pressure in Check

May is National Blood Pressure Month, and there’s no better time than now to begin working to improve yours.

No matter how healthy you've kept yourself over the years, you may find that as you age, you have increasingly more difficult battles with your blood pressure than in the past. This is because of how your blood vessels constrict over time.

High blood pressure can lead to a host of other issues, including stroke and heart disease. But with a little practice and some lifestyle changes, you can positively impact your blood pressure and lower your risk of other medical issues. Try these tips to get started.

1. Know Your Baseline and When to Worry

The perfect blood pressure numbers don’t exist — conventional wisdom claims that 120/80 is the ideal, but this isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Instead, blood pressure numbers are specific for individuals. That means you need to start by working with your healthcare professionals to learn what your baseline is — the numbers your doctor wants you to aim for — and at what point your numbers become worrisome.

High blood pressure numbers, like normal blood pressure figures, are worrisome at different levels for each individual. Once you know what to aim for and when to worry, you can self-monitor in your assisted living apartment or get help with monitoring from the professionals here at Bethesda Gardens.

2. Learn Your Triggers

While high blood pressure can be idiopathic — having no reason — it more often is caused by certain triggers in your life. Learning to identify your own triggers can help you to avoid them or react appropriately when they are unavoidable. Some common high blood pressure triggers include:

  • Dietary choices
  • Stress
  • Poorly controlled medical issues such as thyroid or kidney function
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Excessive exertion
  • Smoking, including cigars and pipes

Some of those triggers lead to gradual changes in blood pressure while others, like stress and exertion, can cause blood pressure to go up rapidly.

3. Make Dietary Changes

A diet that is high in fat and cholesterol and made up mostly of processed foods is often bad for your blood pressure. Often, the first and most important change you can make to positively impact your blood pressure is a move to whole foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and healthy carbs let you better control your blood pressure — as well as your weight and cholesterol levels.

4. Begin Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes are even tougher to undertake than dietary changes for some.

Give up smoking after decades? Daunting.

Let go of your after-dinner cigar? Never.

Start a moderate workout routine after years of never breaking a sweat? No way.

Or slow down your vigorous exercising if you’re overexerting? Really?

Yet all of those potential changes can help you better control your blood pressure while avoiding additional medical complications.

5. Learn Stress-Busting Techniques

If stress and anxiety are a part of your everyday life, they could also be wreaking havoc with your blood pressure. Sometimes, we can change our exposure to stressors and eliminate the issue in that way. That isn’t always possible, however. And while you may be able to control your anxiety with medication, you may still experience momentary bursts of panic that drive up your blood pressure. These anxiety-busting tips help during times of stress and panic:

  • Learn grounding techniques like connecting with your surroundings or other individuals
  • Practice breathing exercises that can help calm anxiety
  • Try silent meditation, visualization or guided meditation recordings
  • Distract yourself by reading, watching a favorite movie, putting together a puzzle or participating in another favorite pastime

High blood pressure can range from worrisome to deadly. Using these tips and proactively working to keep your numbers in check can add years to your life while improving the quality of your living.