Lifestyle Changes You Can Make to Prevent Hypertension

Jan 13, 2023
Millions of Americans suffer from high blood pressure, putting them at risk of developing life-threatening complications. These simple lifestyle changes can help you avoid hypertension and the complications it can cause.

About half of all American adults have hypertension (high blood pressure). That means nearly 120 million people are at risk of serious complications, like heart attack, stroke, dementia, organ damage, and even death.

While there are ways to treat high blood pressure if you already have it, ideally, you want to prevent hypertension in the first place. The good news: Often, all it takes is a few simple lifestyle changes to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range.

As a leading internal and family medicine practice in Alexandria and Lansdowne, Virginia, CN Internal Medicine helps patients stay healthy with individualized treatment plans and lifestyle guidance, giving them the tools they need to manage their blood pressure

If you’re worried about hypertension, here are some lifestyle changes we want you to know about.

Quit smoking

Smoke contains chemicals that cause your blood pressure to go up. Other chemicals interfere with the way your arteries circulate blood. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best ways to avoid hypertension, along with reducing your risks of strokes and heart attacks.

Reduce your sodium intake

You probably know that eating too many salty foods can raise your blood pressure. But salt is just one source of sodium. Lots of foods contain high amounts of sodium, including common foods like bread and ketchup. 

Get in the habit of reading food labels, and aim for less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.

Cut back on unhealthy foods

In addition to keeping sodium intake under control, it’s important to limit sugars and unhealthy fats, including transfats and most saturated fats. Avoid processed foods and focus on whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, along with lean protein and low-fat dairy. 

Get more exercise

Do you spend a lot of time sitting down? Research shows you have a higher risk of developing hypertension. 

You don’t have to join a gym to reap the benefits of physical activity. In fact, taking a half-hour walk during your lunch break can yield big rewards for your blood pressure, your heart health, and your overall wellness.

Improve your sleep habits

Your blood pressure naturally goes down when you sleep, which means if you’re not getting enough rest, your pressure will be higher for longer periods of time. Sleep also helps your body release hormones that help maintain a healthy blood pressure. 

If you’re not catching enough zzz’s, these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may help.

Work on stress relief

When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones that cause your blood pressure to go up. Incorporating a little stress relief into your daily routine can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure and improve your overall health. 

Yoga, meditation, and focused breathing can help, but so can setting aside a little “me” time each day to do something relaxing that you really enjoy.

Lose those extra pounds

When you’re overweight, your circulatory system has to work harder to provide your organs and tissues with the oxygen-rich blood they need to function the way they’re supposed to. Even modest weight loss can reduce the strain on your heart and blood vessels, lowering your risk of hypertension.

Know your risk factors

While anyone can develop high blood pressure (even kids), some people are more prone to hypertension than others. That includes people who:

  • Have elevated blood pressure
  • Have diabetes
  • Are obese
  • Drink alcohol regularly
  • Have a family history of hypertension
  • Are older

Knowing your risk factors can help you take steps to manage them, too.

Have annual physicals

Taking steps to lead a healthier lifestyle is a key factor for preventing high blood pressure and managing hypertension if you have it. But it’s also important to visit your doctor regularly to ensure your plan stays on track. 

We keep an ongoing record of your blood pressure and other health metrics to ensure you get necessary screenings and other care aimed at keeping you healthy at every stage of life.

Learn more about managing your blood pressure

Your risk of developing hypertension increases as you get older, which means regular checkups are even more important. To learn what else you can do to keep your blood pressure in check, book an appointment online or call us at CN Internal Medicine today.