High blood pressure is sometimes called the ‘silent killer’ because it has no symptoms, except in extreme cases. It’s critical that the millions of people who have high blood pressure learn how to control it, before it’s too late.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 76 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. The high force of blood flow can damage arteries, the heart, kidneys, eyes and the brain. If uncontrolled, high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get your high blood pressure under control. These include eating healthfully, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking.
Eat healthfully. When it comes to eating healthfully to help keep blood pressure down, it’s not just about what to avoid – such as lowering your intake of saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars – but about what to add to your diet so that it is rich in nutrients and fiber. In fact, many experts believe that antioxidants show great promise for reducing high blood pressure and supporting heart health.
To help keep blood pressure down, make sure your diet includes plenty of:
• Fruits and vegetables
• Whole grains
• High-fiber foods
• Lean meats
• Fat-free or low-fat dairy foods
• Fish containing omega-3, such as salmon, trout and herring
• Heart-healthy antioxidants
One example of a heart-healthy antioxidant is pterostilbene, which is found naturally in blueberries. Pterostilbene is closely related to resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes, but has properties that provide added benefits:
• It can easily enter into the blood stream.
• It has better absorption from the blood stream for use by cells.
• It is effective at activating proteins which help lower cholesterol levels and contribute to anti-aging.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight raises your blood pressure and blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as lowering the amount of good cholesterol, according to the AHA. Losing even a little weight can reduce blood pressure in many overweight people. The best ways to do that are to modify your diet and get moving.
The Surgeon General recommends that adults engage in moderate physical activities for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
• Can be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and can be spread throughout the week.
• Include flexibility and stretching exercises.
• Include muscle strengthening activity at least two days each week.
Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about how you can increase your physical activity safely and modify your diet to help you get to a healthy weight.
Don’t smoke. Smoking damages blood vessels and speeds up the hardening of the arteries, making it a major risk for heart disease and stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor about programs to help you quit.
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, don’t wait to get it under control. Take action now so you can have a healthier future.