Four Tips for Healthy Blood Pressure Levels

Victoria Burke by Victoria Burke | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 09/15/2018

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure and only about half have their high blood pressure under control. Also called hypertension, high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the CDC. The good news is there are many steps you can take to keep your blood pressure in check

Your blood pressure reading is comprised of two numbers – the top number (systolic pressure) should be no higher than 139, while the bottom number (diastolic pressure) should be no higher than 89 according to the Mayo clinic. Many people have hypertension and don’t even know because it often has no symptoms or warning signs, making it a “silent killer” according to the CDC. For that reason, it’s essential to check your blood pressure regularly and, if it’s high, see a physician and take the proper steps to lower your levels. These basic lifestyle guidelines may help you keep your blood pressure levels balanced:

1. Eat right
The two golden rules of heart health – eat nutritiously and stay physically active – are also essential in keeping your blood pressure at the proper levels according to the CDC. People who are overweight tend to have high blood pressure, so eating well with the aim of staying within a healthy body mass index is key. A healthy diet for low blood pressure is low in sodium and high in potassium, according to the CDC. To avoid sodium, cut out processed and restaurants foods, according to the CDC. If you’re having trouble keeping track of how much sodium you take in each day, try keeping a salt diary in which you note all the salt added to foods and sodium contents of any prepackaged items you eat. To increase potassium, eat sweet potatoes, white beans, tomato products, soybeans, spinach, lentils and kidney beans, according to choosemyplate.gov.

2. Exercise 

It’s also recommended that people engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day, according to the Mayo Clinic. The best types of exercise for lowering blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming and dancing, according to the Mayo Clinic, although you should see your doctor to determine an exercise regime that’s right for you.

3. Drink alcohol in moderation
Enjoying a glass of wine with your dinner may not be damaging to your health; in fact small amounts of alcohol may potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm Hg, according to the Mayo Clinic. Drinking in excess can cause your blood pressure to increase by several points and can reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications. In general, women and men over age 65 should stick to one drink a day or less. Keep in mind that one drink is the equivalent of 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer. If you drink hard alcohol, like vodka, one serving equals 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, according to the Mayo Clinic.

4. Ask your doctor about hypertension medicine
For some people, diet, exercise and reducing alcohol intake aren’t enough to reduce their blood pressure sufficiently. In such cases, your physician may prescribe you blood pressure medicine and continue to monitor your levels to ensure it’s working properly and implement any necessary changes to your drug regimen. Your physician may also suggest that you begin taking your own blood pressure at home. Blood pressure monitors may not be covered by Medicare Part B, but they are generally inexpensive.

Know when to get emergency care

If you take a reading and notice that your blood pressure is out of range, you may want to make an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause and come up with a treatment plan. However, when your levels spike dramatically, it may be a sign of a serious heart issue, such as stroke or heart attack.

According the American Heart Association, the following may be warning signs of a heart attack:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Lightheadedness

According to the National Stroke Association symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking
  • Sudden trouble seeing
  • Sudden trouble walking or loss of balance
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you’d like more information about Medicare plans that can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure, I’m happy to answer your questions. To request personalized information via email or schedule a return telephone call, click the appropriate link at the bottom of the page. You can also view plans in your area by clicking the “Compare Plans” button.

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