Did you know that 75 million Americans have high blood pressure, and only around half have it under control? If you fall into this number, we have some good news - high blood pressure, also called hypertension, is treatable. Not only can you take medications for hypertension, but you can also change your lifestyle to lower your numbers and stay healthy.
Before we discuss a few strategies you can use to lower your blood pressure, Dr. Gandhi would like to provide some essential information about what blood pressure is and how to tell if you have hypertension.
What is blood pressure?
Your blood pressure consists of two numbers that are usually reported one over the other. The top number is the systolic blood pressure. It tells you how much force your blood places on the walls of your arteries when your heart beats. The diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number, and it indicates how much pressure your blood puts on the artery walls when your heart is at rest between beats.
As you age, more emphasis is placed on the top number being elevated. If you’re over the age of 50, a high systolic blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease. However, it’s normal for this number to gradually rise with age, because of plaque that can build up in your vessels over time. It’s critical to know that if either number is high, it might mean you have hypertension.
The American Heart Association recently changed the standards for what is considered high blood pressure. Four blood pressure categories now range from normal to hypertensive crisis. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 mm Hg or lower is in the normal range. If your blood pressure is higher, you’ll fall into one of the categories below:
- Hypertension Stage 1: Your numbers range from 130-139 systolic mmHg or 80-89 mmHg diastolic. You may be able to control your condition with lifestyle changes alone, or Dr. Gandhi might order medications, too, if you have other risk factors.
- Hypertension Stage 2: Your blood pressure is consistently 140/90 mmHg or higher. You will need a combination of lifestyle changes and drugs.
- Hypertensive Crisis: If your blood pressure is over 180/120, you will need to wait five minutes and test it again. If it remains high, contact Dr. Gandhi immediately for further instruction. If you have symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath with elevated blood pressure, call 911 and get to the nearest emergency department for evaluation.
Natural ways to decrease high blood pressure
Many people think if you pop a blood pressure pill each day, you don’t have to do anything else to control your blood pressure. However, the best strategies to lower your readings don’t come in a bottle. Here are three excellent ways to lower your blood pressure:
Control your weight
Being overweight can affect many aspects of your health. The more extra weight you carry, the harder your heart has to work. You might think just because you don’t have signs of heart damage, your weight isn’t affecting you. However, heart damage can happen, and you can have high blood pressure, and not even know.
Try to lose weight if you’re overweight or obese. If you’re not overweight, merely control your weight. While you might have a goal of losing a larger number of pounds, it’s critical to know that losing even a small amount of weight can lower your heart disease risk and lower your numbers.
If you’re not sure how to get started losing weight, make an appointment with our care team to discuss weight loss strategies.
Experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that getting plenty of physical activity can be just as powerful as some medicines. It can slow your heart rate and decrease your blood pressure. Exercise also helps strengthen your heart muscles, which makes your heart pump more efficiently. Being physically active also controls your weight, which is another risk factor for dangerous conditions like heart disease and stroke.
When you’re under stress, your body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Both these hormones can increase your blood pressure. Too much stress over time can place your heart at risk and make your blood pressure harder to control. A few simple ways to alleviate stress include scheduling time to relax, increasing your exercise, and trying activities like yoga and meditation.
If you’re ready to get your blood pressure under control, but you’re not quite sure how to do it, Dr. Gandhi and our team at Medinet Family Care Clinic can help. Give our Houston office a call today or use the online booking tool to schedule your appointment with ease.