Tips for Keeping Normal Blood Pressure:
Getting older, being African-American, having diabetes, and having a family history of diabetes are some of the factors that increase your risk for high blood pressure, but you can fight back. Here's how:
Exercise: One reason exercise is so effective at controlling blood pressure is because it stimulates your body to release a substance called nitric acid. Nitric acid causes blood vessels to open up, which reduces blood pressure. Exercise also helps to strengthen your heart muscle, reduce stress, and aid weight loss.
Lose excess weight: There's no getting around the fact that blood pressure goes up as the pounds pile on. Being overweight increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes, too. Losing even 10 pounds can start to make your blood pressure go back down.
Eat healthily: Eating the right type of diet can lower your risk for high blood pressure or help you return to normal blood pressure. Clinical studies show that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts really works. You also need to avoid fats, red meat, and excess sugar.
Shake the salt habit: Your body only needs about 500 milligrams of salt a day, but if you are like the average American you may be consuming up to 9,000 mg a day. Studies show that high salt leads to high blood pressure. Current recommendations are to limit salt intake to 2,400 mg per day, the equivalent of about one teaspoon.
Put the brakes on smoking and drinking: These are two other bad habits to avoid if you want to keep a normal blood pressure. Alcohol raises blood pressure and adds empty calories. A safe amount of alcohol is only one drink a day for women and two for men. Smoking is not safe in any amount. Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict and that raises blood pressure. Quitting will also lower your risk of cancer and heart disease.
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure or normal blood pressure is to have a blood pressure reading done by a trained healthcare provider. The American Heart Association recommends a blood pressure reading at least once every two years. If you have had a recent blood pressure reading and you have normal blood pressure, don't take it for granted. Remember hypertension is a common and sometimes silent killer. Push yourself away from the computer, turn off the television, get active, eat your fruits and vegetables, and kick any bad habits.