A healthy diet and exercise program can help maintain optimal blood pressure.
Some of the most important numbers in your life are the two that make up your blood pressure reading. They indicate the force that your blood exerts on your vessels as it flows. Too much force is dangerous. So is too little. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep your numbers where they need to be.
A healthy blood pressure, according to the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association, is now a reading of less than 120/80. High blood pressure begins when the top number in your reading is greater than 129, or when the bottom number in your reading is greater than 79. But that doesn’t automatically mean you need medication. Doctors usually won’t recommend medication until Stage 2 hypertension, with a reading of at least 140/90. But we may start treatment earlier if the patient has had a stroke, heart attack, or anything else that qualifies the person as high risk.
Some patients may be able to lower blood pressure naturally with a healthy diet and exercise program. The first tip is to avoid consuming sodium. Too much sodium in your diet can increase the volume of water in your blood, thereby increasing the amount of pressure exerted on your blood vessels. I recommend cutting back on processed foods and saturated fats (like fatty meats and full-fat dairy) and eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Apple cider vinegar, magnesium, and dark chocolate can also help.
Exercise strengthens your heart, making it more efficient and decreasing the amount of pressure it exerts. Workouts also help the body get rid of cortisol, the stress hormone that can build up in the body and elevate blood pressure. Thirty minutes a day of aerobic exercise is all it takes to improve your numbers.
White Plains Hospital recently partnered with the American Heart Association for Check. Change. Control.™, a four-month hypertension management program that focuses on personal goals to help achieve better health.
The Check. Change. Control.™ Tracker is a new online tool to help you track your blood-pressure readings and connect with a volunteer health mentor to share your results and progress. The Hospital is implementing the program both for its own employees, as well as corporate partners and community-based organizations in Westchester to improve overall health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke in the community. Take the step toward better health and sign up. Go to www.ccctracker.com/aha and find the campaign code on the map for your state.