5 Keys to Lowering Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects millions of people — almost half of adults in the United States. While high blood pressure often doesn't cause uncomfortable symptoms, going undetected for many, the condition can be serious.

If you have high blood pressure, your risk for major health problems like heart disease or a stroke increases significantly. High blood pressure can threaten your life. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do, both at home and with the help of a medical professional, to take control of your blood pressure.

At Monrovia Internal Medicine & Primary Care in Duarte, California, Ulin Sargeant, MD, MPH, provides expert medical support for patients with hypertension. She can diagnose your condition as part of a complete physical evaluation, and advise you on lifestyle changes and medical therapies to help manage your blood pressure levels.

Here are the key strategies Dr. Sargeant often recommends for her patients with blood pressure concerns.

1. Watch your weight

If you’re overweight, losing even just 5-10 pounds can make a difference in your blood pressure numbers, which go up along with the number on your scale. In particular, weight gain or excess fat around your midsection tends to put both men and women at increased risk of blood pressure problems.

Making healthy changes in your diet and getting healthy amounts of regular exercise can help you succeed in your attempts to lower your blood pressure. Talk to Dr. Sargeant about the right exercise and weight loss goals for you, as well as tips for healthier eating.

2. Be mindful of sodium

In terms of your diet, sodium is a major culprit when it comes to hypertension. Reducing your daily sodium intake can significantly improve your blood pressure levels and overall heart health.

Learn to read food labels, and try to keep your daily intake to no higher than 2,300 milligrams (mg). If you can aim lower than that, 1,500 mg a day or less is the ideal for most adults.

To cut your sodium intake, choose low-sodium alternatives, avoid processed foods, and watch out for how often — and how heavily — you use your salt shaker. You can adjust your sensory preferences for saltiness over time if you gradually cut back.

3. Quit smoking and only drink moderately

Smoking is terrible for your blood pressure, causing spikes that can linger long after your cigarette is gone. To support your heart health, cut back. If you can, quit entirely. Dr. Sargeant can recommend support systems for smoking cessation.

Having too much to drink doesn't only push up your blood pressure. Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can also interfere with blood pressure medications. To keep your levels low, limit alcoholic beverages to just one per day for women or two a day for men.

4. Manage your stress

Are you stressed out all the time or too busy for your own good? Chronic stress is a contributing factor in high blood pressure problems, and research shows that occasional stress can be an issue, as well — especially if you turn to unhealthy coping strategies like salty junk food or smoking.

You may not be able to remove all stress from your life, but you can change how you react to and process stress. Healthier coping strategies — such as attitude and expectation readjustment, deep breathing, and practicing gratitude and mindfulness — can help you reduce the negative impacts of stress on your whole body.

5. Seek medical support

You can take a number of steps to lower your blood pressure on your own, but don't discount the importance of getting a medical professional on your side. Record your blood pressure levels at home with a personal monitor, and discuss them when you check in regularly with Dr. Sargeant. Together, home monitoring and professional support can work to lower your blood pressure levels to a safe range.

Dr. Sargeant can prescribe medications to lower your blood pressure if lifestyle changes alone don't do enough to move your numbers. She can also recommend other professional therapies to support you as you work to improve your heart health.

A leading internist and founder of Monrovia Internal Medicine & Primary Care, Dr. Sargeant offers both in-office and telehealth services. Schedule a consultation with Dr.  Sargeant now through our convenient virtual office.

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