If you suffer from or are at risk for hypertension and want to get it under control, it’s important to make certain lifestyle changes that can help you prevent and even treat this disease. Here’s how!
1. Limit your sodium intake
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension or are anxious to prevent it, salt is your sworn enemy. From now on, you should avoid eating processed foods like packaged soups and sauces, luncheon meats and certain frozen meals that can contain up to 80% of the recommended daily intake of sodium. Choose foods that contain less than 200 mg or 10% of the daily recommendation and use herbs and spices to season your recipes.
2. Get on the DASH plan
DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a diet designed and proven to help lower hypertension. It emphasizes on fruits, vegetables, fibres, low-fat dairy products and lean meats (low in saturated fats and cholesterol, like poultry and fish). Before starting a new diet, be sure to get your pharmacist’s advice.
3. Stay active
By adding 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise (walking, biking, swimming) four or seven days a week, you can lower your blood pressure and prevent hypertension. If this seems like a lot, start slowly with several short periods of physical activity. You’ll start seeing the benefits on your blood pressure with as little as 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a week.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Weight loss immediately translates into lower blood pressure. Aim for a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2. Use your waist measurement to guide you—it should be lower than 102 cm for men and 88 cm for women. Ask your pharmacist or doctor to help you calculate your BMI and measure your waist.
5. Moderate your consumption of alcohol
Guidelines recommend limiting alcohol to 0–2 drinks a day. Women shouldn’t drink more than 9 drinks a week. A drink is the equivalent of:
- 360 ml (12 ounces) of beer with 5% alcohol;
- 150 ml (5 ounces) of wine with 12% alcohol;
- 45 ml (1.5 ounces) of spirits.
6. Quit smoking
It is recommended to quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke to reduce hypertension and the risk of heart failure. Your pharmacist can recommend ways to help you quit, including anti-smoking aids.
Certain products, foods or changes in lifestyle may not be appropriate for you. Always consult your pharmacist or a healthcare professional to make sure.
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