Blood Pressure Treatment
by Brent Sandmeyer
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common problem. According to the American Heart Association, around 1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to a host of medical problems, so your doctor will likely recommend that you follow a blood pressure treatment plan similar to this one.
Follow these tips to lower your blood pressure
If your doctor determines that you have high blood pressure, she will likely prescribe medication to get your pressure down quickly, giving you time to make lifestyle changes. Excess sodium is a major cause of high blood pressure, so at first you will probably take a diuretic to flush sodium out of your system.
Your doctor may also give you one or more medications known as antihypertensives. Antihypertensives work in a variety of ways, such as slightly slowing your heart, loosening blood vessels, and relaxing your heart muscles. Common types of antihypertensives include beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, vasodilators, and sympathetic nerve inhibitors.
After you bring your blood pressure under control with medication, you can begin making the lifestyle changes that may render medication unnecessary. Although blood pressure is determined somewhat by your genes, what you put into your body plays an equal if not greater role.
Sodium is probably the single ingredient that has the greatest affect on blood pressure. The average American consumes far more than the recommended amount of salt, according to the Mayo Clinic, and most of it comes from processed foods. Cooking your meals from scratch is a good way to start cutting sodium from your diet. Try to keep your daily sodium intake in the 1500 to 2400 mg range.
Excess weight is strongly linked with high blood pressure. Switching to a diet based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Limit meat to only one or two servings a day, and aim for two to three servings of low-fat dairy.
Alcohol and Tobacco
Alcohol and tobacco abuse not only increase your risk of developing high blood pressure but can also put you at greater risk of heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that you limit alcohol intake to one or two servings a day--a serving being a 12 oz. beer, a shot of hard liquor, or a 5 oz. glass of wine.
Every major health organization, including the AHA and the National Institutes of Health, recommends that you quit smoking or never start in order to avoid an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
Regular exercise can help you reach a healthy weight, lower your blood pressure, and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. The National Institutes of Health suggest that you aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week--every day, if possible. Good options for exercise include lap swimming, brisk walking or jogging, and bicycling.
Starting a moderate exercise routine is safe for almost everyone, but if you recently suffered a heart attack or have other major medical issues, speak to your doctor about the best way to start exercising.