High blood pressure must be taken seriously. It is a primary cause of damage to the heart’s coronary arteries, causing deposits of blood fats such as cholesterol to form on them and narrow them.
In addition, high blood pressure also weakens the heart over time and is a powerful risk factor for stroke.
Don’t get me wrong — many people do need medication to control high blood pressure. But that is by no means true for everyone, no matter what their age.
Taking the following steps will hopefully enable you to lower your blood pressure without resorting to drugs, or at least enable you to reduce the amount of medication you must take.
• Lose weight. This is the most important step you can take. Losing 10 pounds generally translates into one less blood pressure medication needed.
• Limit your salt intake. Salt causes the body to retain fluid, and the more fluid in the bloodstream, the harder the heart must work to keep it flowing. Most of the salt we consume is hidden in processed and prepackaged foods, so avoid them. Season your food with fresh herbs and spices.
• Walk an hour a day.
• Steer clear of stimulants like coffee, tea, soda, alcohol, and cigarettes.
• Make sure you are getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night.
• Rule out sleep apnea, a common sleep disturbance that contributes to high blood pressure. Snoring and daytime sleepiness are clues you may have it. There is also new research that shows this condition raises the risk of cardiac arrest.
More Posts by Chauncey Crandall, M.D.
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