While you don’t have control over some risk factors for high blood pressure, such as family history, age, and race, there are others that you can control. The latter include being overweight or physically inactive, smoking, having a high level of stress or a poor diet, and consuming alcohol excessively. Medical conditions such as chronic kidney disease, sleep apnea, aldosterone excess, renal artery stenosis, and coarctation of the aorta can play a role in causing high blood pressure too.
You can learn your blood pressure level by having it checked by a medical professional. A medical provider can also screen you for medical conditions that contribute to high blood pressure, and can work with you to reach your target blood pressure level.
In addition to any medications your provider prescribes, these lifestyle changes can help you gain control of your blood pressure:
- Working toward reaching a healthy weight. Your blood pressure can drop by 5‒20 points for every 10 kg you lose.
- Adopting the dash diet (dietary approaches to stop hypertension). This is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy with reduced saturated and total fat along with reduced sodium. It can lower blood pressure by 8‒14 points.
- Getting active. Thirty minutes of moderate physical exercise on most days of the week can reduce blood pressure by 4‒9 points.
- Limiting alcohol intake to two drinks a day or less for men and one drink a day or less for women, which can lead to a 2‒4 point reduction in blood pressure.
- Quitting smoking and reducing your stress level.
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