High blood pressure may be a common diagnosis, but this doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be taken seriously. As a result, it’s important to pay attention to your lifestyle habits such as diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, and other factors that affect these levels. This isn’t just the case if you’ve already been diagnosed with hypertension, the medical term for the condition. Instead, it’s always a good idea to look at things preventatively as well.
Impact of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a condition that is frequently treatable with lifestyle changes, often supported by medication. That said, it is a leading risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease, so just because it can be treated, it doesn’t mean that it should be ignored. In both men and women in the United States, heart disease – the common term for cardiovascular disease – is the leading cause of death.
Therefore, correcting any potential risk factors for heart disease that are within your control should be an important health goal for everyone. This frequently has to do with taking some positive steps in your nutrition, physical activity levels, sleep and stress management.
Common Causes of Hypertension
There are several factors that can place you at an increased risk of high blood pressure. While some of them are outside your control – such as genetics – others are perfectly within your ability to change and reduce your overall risk. Diet and exercise habits are typically considered to be the leading factors within a person’s control. This is particularly true if you are overweight or have obesity.
When you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder to circulate your blood throughout the body. This places added strain on the heart as well as on the arterial walls. Over time, this creates microtraumas to the heart and arteries, leading to scar tissue. These scar tissues provide a place for plaque to accumulate over time, filling up the space in the arteries and reducing the area through which blood can flow. This worsens the situation, requiring the heart and arteries to work even harder to circulate the blood. The result can be reduced blood flow, harm to the heart and arteries, decreased oxygen delivery to cells and tissues, and a risk of a full blockage.
Lifestyle Tips for Controlling High Blood Pressure
If you have received a high blood pressure diagnosis, it is very important to follow your doctor’s instructions for lifestyle changes and medication extremely carefully. These changes could save your life. That said, if you don’t have hypertension, it’s still a good idea to make the right healthy lifestyle changes to prevent it from developing. These include:
- Controlling your weight – Talk to your doctor about a weight loss strategy if you are overweight or if you suffer from obesity.
- Nutrition – An eating strategy such as the DASH diet could help to control factors relating to food that could contribute to high blood pressure.
- Exercise – The American Heart Association recommends about 150 minutes of moderate cardio exercise per week. A half hour power walk five times per week is enough to do the trick.
- Sleep – Make sure you’re getting the rest you need. Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows a direct connection between quality sleep and cardiovascular disease risk.
- Stress management – Learn some strategies to get your stress under control to help reduce your risk of high blood pressure. Even regular meditation for five to ten minutes per day can have a measurable impact.