Lifestyle Modifications to Manage High Blood Pressure

Nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure. That’s approximately 103 million people. Unfortunately, not all of these people are doing everything they can to manage their condition. Visits with the doctor and taking your medication regularly are two of the best ways to manage your high blood pressure. However, we want to see you do more than live with it — we want to see you take control of it. 

Dr. Michael Skardasis and his team of experts at Optimal Performance Medicine specialize in treating and helping you manage your high blood pressure so you can live your healthiest life. 

Blood pressure basics

When Dr. Skardasis takes your blood pressure, he is measuring the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart is pumping and the narrower your arteries become, the higher your blood pressure rises. 

What’s good blood pressure?

Your blood pressure reads as a fraction with the systolic number on top and the diastolic number on the bottom. Your systolic number refers to how much pressure there is in your arteries when your heart muscles contract. The diastolic reading refers to the pressure in your arteries in between beats. Healthy blood pressure is anywhere from 90/60 and 120/80. 

What’s bad blood pressure?

Dr. Skardasis recommends treatment for high blood pressure or hypertension when your blood pressure reaches 130/80-139/89. You approach hypertension stage 2 when your blood pressure soars to 140/90 or more and you enter in hypertensive crisis when your blood pressure reads above 180/120. 

Hypertensive crisis is serious and requires immediate medical attention, especially if you’re experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, visual changes, blood in your urine, dizziness, or headaches. 

Why is high blood pressure bad?

When you have high blood pressure, your heart and arteries are essentially working overtime. Especially if left untreated, having high blood pressure can damage and narrow your arteries and cause heart disease and other medical complications, like stroke. 

Now that you know the basics, we’d like to share our best strategies for managing your blood pressure. 

Cut the sodium

Eating foods that are high in sodium or are highly processed raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream. This, in turn, prevents your kidneys from removing excess water in your system. If you’re unable to expel extra fluids, your heart has to work harder to pump blood, which means you develop hypertension. 

Cutting sodium and other processed foods help your kidney regulate the fluids in your system and keeps your heart from working harder than it has to. 

Put down that cup of coffee

For lots of people, there is a correlation between caffeine intake and high blood pressure. Those with caffeine sensitivity are at risk for seeing a blood pressure spike when consuming caffeine. Habitual coffee drinkers are typically not at risk, but it’s best to talk to Dr. Skardasis to evaluate your sensitivities to caffeine.  

Increase your exercise

Your heart is a muscle and a hard-working one at that. It’s simple science that more exercises make your heart a stronger muscle and a strong muscle doesn’t need to work as hard to do its job. Hitting the gym or going for a walk can also help you lose weight which also impacts your heart and its ability to pump blood efficiently.

Exercising even for 30 minutes a day can make a huge difference in how your heart performs. Ask Dr. Skardasid for a list of gentle, effective exercises you can do. 

Learn to manage your stress

When you get stressed, your heart rate rises and so does your blood pressure. Learning to manage your stress by engaging in meditation, light exercises, or breathing strategies can all help to lower your stress and your blood pressure in a natural way. 

Say no to alcohol and smoking

Alcohol and cigarettes both cause huge spikes in blood pressure. Neither is good for your overall health, but they’re especially risky if you’ve already been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Dr. Skardasis recommends you cut down or even eliminate these two things from your lifestyle.

Managing your blood pressure can be frustrating on medication alone, but you can get in the driver’s seat and take control of your high blood pressure if you follow our expert advice. Dr. Skardasis is here to support you and educate you through your journey towards a healthier life. Call our office or schedule an appointment online to get started. 

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