How’s your blood pressure these days?
“High blood pressure means a reading of 140/90 mmHg or more,” said Dr. Vincent Robinson, a cardiologist with Augusta University Heart and Cardiovascular Services.
While certain risk factors are genetic, there are factors you can do something about. These include:
Eating and exercising better. That means a low-fat diet that’s loaded with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (think the DASH diet) and 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Quitting. If you smoke, your doctor can offer you quit-smoking options such as nicotine replacement therapy and medication. If you don’t smoke, avoid places where you know people will be lighting up.
Cutting back. Depending on your current health, cutting your salt intake may limit you to 1,500 mg a day or no more than 2,300 mg daily. Men should limit alcohol to no more than two drinks a day, and women and those over age 65 should stick to no more than one drink daily.
Indulging in potassium. Not having enough potassium in your system can lead to sodium buildup in your blood. For most adults, the recommended daily intake of potassium is about 4,700 mg per day. Find it in a host of foods, including sweet potatoes, spinach, bananas and tuna. Always ask your provider first before you take any potassium supplement.
Getting a handle on stress. Don’t let stress tempt you into unhealthy behaviors. Instead, relax into activities like yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises, and work on ways to cope with stressful situations.
Taking care of yourself. Sleep apnea, diabetes, and high cholesterol are just some of the health issues that can also impact your blood pressure. Work with your doctor to manage and treat these conditions.