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July 11, 2020

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Give your heart a tune-up

Ten ways to reduce your blood pressure and keep it down

Note: This article is provided by ONU Healthwise Pharmacy.
Looking to lower your blood pressure?

Try the following 10 steps to manage your blood pressure and improve your heart health:

1. Get moving. Aim for least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. You can break it down into 30 minutes a day on at least five days a week. Exercise can lower blood pressure, improve mood, reduce stress, and help with weight loss and flexibility. Before starting an exercise program, speak with your health care provider about what programs are safe for you.

2. Stop smoking. Tobacco is a known risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Ask your pharmacist how he or she can help you stop smoking today.

3. Nix the salt. Too much salt in your diet can increase your blood pressure. Ideally, for those with high blood pressure, sodium intake should be no more than 1,500 mg per day.

4. Reduce and manage stress. Reducing and managing stress can help lower your blood pressure. To manage stress and anxiety, try to get enough sleep and take time to relax (take 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit and take deep breaths). In addition, you may need to learn to say no and give yourself enough time to get things accomplished.

5. Eat healthy. Focus on lowering your salt intake and include the following in your diet:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products
  • Lean meats, poultry and fish
  • Foods low in trans fat, saturated fat and cholesterol

6. Limit alcohol intake. Drinking too much alcohol raises your blood pressure. If you drink alcohol, try to limit your drinking to the following:

  • No more than two drinks per day (for men younger than 65)
  • One drink per day (for men who are 65 or older and women of all ages)

7. Know your numbers. The best way to know is to check your blood pressure. You can have it checked at your doctor's office, but if you have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, experts recommend monitoring your blood pressure on a regular basis. Measure your blood pressure twice daily. Measure in the morning before eating or taking any medications and again in the evening. For a step-by-step guide on monitoring your blood pressure, read "Monitoring Your Blood Pressure at Home."

8. Lose weight. Losing weight can help you control your blood pressure and lower your risk of related health problems. Even losing five to 10 pounds can help reduce your blood pressure.

9. Take medications as directed. The medications you are prescribed will depend on a variety of factors. Be sure to discuss any problems you may have with your doctor and pharmacist.

10. Limit caffeine intake. Caffeine may increase your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether you should stop or limit your caffeine intake.

Ask your health care provider any questions you have about managing your blood pressure.