Happy Wednesday! As we come to the end of May and the end of Blood Pressure Awareness Month, it is time to start putting it all together. You can read all the posts on this topic in the archives. There is a ton of helpful information there. This post may contain affiliate links.
So, what are the 10 risk factors you can control?
- Everyone hates it when a medical person says this, but controlling your weight, if you are over weight or obese, is the #1 risk factor you can control to prevent High Blood Pressure. Now, for a small population, due to reasons outside of their control, weight loss may not be a risk factor they can control. BMI, and hip to waist ratio are other tools, besides just a number on a scale that can help you determine your risk.
- Reduce your stress levels. If you visited this blog at all in April then you know I talked about Stress reduction. Stress is a huge risk factor for High Blood Pressure and learning to control it is vital. Check the archives to learn about managing Stress. A Health Coach can help you. Check out my 30 day coaching plan. One thing I have discussed recently is that pain is a definite stressor and having adequate pain management is vitally important. Talk to your doctor if you have pain! Come back later this week to read about what annoyed me in the news today on the topic of Stress.
- Be Active. Exercise has been proven to help prevent and reduce blood pressure. However, be careful if you are new to exercise or have an underlying illness. I have CKD and recently I have started running. I have also noticed that my blood pressure has creeped up in that time when it was very well managed without medication. My doctor OK’d this increase in intensity, but I have gone back to low impact and the fat burning zone to see if it makes a difference in my blood pressure. I check my blood pressure most days of the week using a manual cuff and stethescope. I keep a log for my doctor to review.
- Eat a healthy diet. Now I know there is controversy around what is healthy and what is not. Lower sodium, lower fat and less processed foods I think most could agree would be healthy. Adding fruits and veggies is always going to be healthier than eating fast food, or otherwise less healthy food options.
- Eat less salt. This kind of goes with #4. Talk to your doctor but most experts on this topic, if you search it, say 1800 mg per day is all you should be getting for most people. Back in the day when I worked on a Cardiac Unit is was 2000 mg per day. So, it has decreased over the years.
- Limit your alcohol. I did a whole post on portion distortion alcohol and I think it is plain that most people do not understand the serving size of alcohol. If you are a man you should not drink more than 2 servings a day, and only 1 serving a day if you are a woman.
- Stop smoking. I don’t think that really needs explaining.
- Cut back on caffeine. Caffeine is found in coffee, some teas, energy drinks, chocolate and possibly other products I am not aware of. Not everyone is sensitive to caffeine raising their blood pressure, but if you consume a lot of it you might want to consider cutting back.
- Monitor your blood pressure. This really isn’t a lifestyle change, but more of a habit you should get into. Even if you are young and healthy regular monitoring of your blood pressure is a good idea. Even if you only have it checked every few months. If you are already at a high risk of getting High Blood Pressure, or already have it, monitoring your blood pressure is vitally important. You may not even know it is high, like for me, because you might have no symptoms. Even the smallest increases in blood pressure can have negative effects on the body, especially if the blood pressure goes unnoticed that it is high.
- Find a support team. This should include your doctor, family, friends, a Health Coach. Anyone who can help you adjust your risk factors. It is not easy making lifestyle changes, trust me I know, but doing it can prolong your life, prevent diseases, or complications from diseases.
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