Keep It Low!

June 03, 2014

You have been told that your blood pressure is at a desirable level. That is a good thing. So you probably don’t think about it much and don’t pay too much attention to health information about high blood pressure. Why should you? You don’t have high blood pressure.  But the reality is that anyone can develop high blood pressure at any point in their life time. Wouldn’t you want information now to help prevent high blood pressure in the future? There are lifestyle steps that can help you to do that. Taking steps now to keep it low is a better route to take than working to bring it down.

There are six basic strategies for promoting a healthy blood pressure. Some will not be news to you. You may have heard them, but felt they didn’t apply to you because your blood pressure is just fine. Please take the time to review them now. These strategies will not only impact blood pressure, but can also impact heart disease and diabetes.

1. Eat a healthy diet. What does this mean?  A healthy diet should include generous portions of fruit and vegetables, as well as being low in saturated fat and sodium (salt.) There should be a focus on healthier carbohydrates (such as whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables-at least half of the daily intake) and eating less of unhealthy carbohydrates (those high in sugar and white flour or rice.) It should include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts as sources of protein. Dairy products should be low-fat or fat-free. There are other nutrients that are being studied to see what impact they have on blood pressure.

2. Maintain a healthy weight. Some research has shown that people who are overweight may be two to six times more likely to develop high blood pressure. For people with high blood pressure, losing even small amounts of weight can greatly impact blood pressure levels.   

3. Be physically active. This does not mean you have to join a gym, play a sport or participate in a marathon. Rather, it means get up off the couch and move! Five hours a week of moderate activity can go a long way toward good health.

4. Alcohol in moderation. What this generally means is no more than two alcoholic beverages per day, (which actually seems like a lot over 7 days a week! )

5. No smoking! Nothing else needs to be said here. (If you are a smoker, you know it is it is related to poor health.)

6. Reduce stress. Easier said than done. Scientists are not exactly sure how stress affects the body, the heart and subsequently the blood pressure, but they know that it can. Literature suggests to reduce stress you should: Learn to identify your stressors; try to avoid conflict; find things you enjoy doing; learn about time management; tackle one task at a time; learn to say no and don’t overload yourself with responsibilities; and seek professional help if the stress becomes too much to bear.  

High blood pressure is a strong risk for heart and kidney disease and stroke. If you are lucky enough to have a desirable blood pressure, work to keep it low! You can learn more about blood pressure by researching it on the web. Avoid sites that advertise products. For District residents without internet access (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge), call Quinnipiack Valley Health District,  203 248-4528 or request by email, for a free information packet on blood pressure.