According to the American Heart Association, one in four Americans has high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. If untreated high blood pressure can cause serious health problems, so managing the condition is essential to good health.
As a vascular surgeon, Dr. Russell Lam often treats patients whose arteries have been damaged by elevated blood pressure. The strain of increased pressure can cause arteries to narrow and develop fatty deposits. Narrow, clogged arteries can cause a number of complications, such as peripheral artery disease (PAD), heart attacks and strokes.
High blood pressure is defined as a persistent elevation of the pressure within the arteries that deliver blood to the body. Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers. The top number measures the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is pumping. The bottom number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart is resting between beats. A normal blood pressure is 120 over 80.
If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, but aren’t ready to take a daily medication, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your levels.
If you are overweight, losing weight is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for bringing down your blood pressure. Studies have shown losing just 10 pounds can have a significant effect.
Carrying more weight in the waist also can impact your blood pressure. Generally men with a waistline of more than 40 inches and women with a waistline of more than 35 inches are at an increased risk of hypertension. Those guidelines vary for different ethnic groups, so speak to your doctor about your personal goals.
Regular physical activity – at least 30 minutes most days of the week – can help patients with pre-hypertension avoid full-blown hypertension. Exercise can also help patients who have already developed hypertension reduce their numbers.
Moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing, is a great way to manage your numbers. Strength training can also help reduce blood pressure. Work with your doctor to develop an exercise program that best suits your abilities and needs.
Healthy Diet and Reduced Sodium
Cutting back on cholesterol and saturated fat and eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products can have a significant impact on blood pressure. Making changes to your diet can be challenging, but keeping a food diary and adopting better shopping habits can help ease the transition.
Reducing your sodium intake also has positive effects. Generally, patients should limit themselves to 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, the equivalent of one level teaspoon of salt. Avoid processed food and pay attention to food labels to make sure you are not getting too much sodium.
Reduced alcohol and caffeine consumption
Moderate alcohol consumption can actually have positive impacts on blood pressure, but too much alcohol can have negative effects. Generally, it is recommended women and men 65 and over have only one drink per day, and men under 65 limit themselves to two drinks per day. A drink is defined as a 12 ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
The impact of caffeine may depend on how much and how often it is consumed. Doctors recommend checking your blood pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a caffeinated beverage. If there is a jump in your levels, then you may be sensitive to caffeine and want to cut back on the soda and coffee.
Smoking significantly increases the risk of hypertension and heart disease, as well as other conditions. Quitting smoking can have positive impacts on blood pressure and overall health. Your physician can help you develop a plan to stop smoking.
If you have hypertension, schedule a consultation with Dr. Lam to discuss the potential health complications and develop a plan to manage your condition.
For more information, please call Lam Vascular at 214-345-4160 or contact us, here.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.