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Lifestyle Changes for Controlling High Blood Pressure

Clip Number: 8 of 13
Presentation: High Blood Pressure
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Reviewed By: This presentation was a collaborative effort of practicing cardiologists and Clinaero medical writers.
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Lifestyle changes are the first form of treatment for high blood pressure.
Some of these changes may include: weight loss, exercise, cutting down the salt in your diet, quitting smoking, reducing stress, and drinking less alcohol.
Try to lose weight, if you are overweight. It does strain your heart to carry extra weight. Also, as people gain weight, their blood pressure tends to rise. Losing weight can make high blood pressure drop back down.
A moderate exercise program will help keep your heart and blood vessels in shape.
Many people think this means you have to exercise hard every day. Not true. Even walking at a brisk pace three days a week, for 30 to 60 minutes a day is considered "regular physical activity" by the American Heart Association.
Salt can make your blood vessels and body tissues swell and fill with fluid. This puts an extra strain on your heart. Nutrition labels on food packages will tell you the levels of salt in certain foods, and it will be listed as sodium.
There are a lot of different herbs and spices you can experiment with to flavor your meals, and many restaurants offer low-salt choices. Pre-packaged foods are usually processed with high amounts of sodium. As a good rule of thumb, it's better to buy fresh foods.
Nicotine in cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff, and pipe tobacco can make blood vessels narrow and lead to high blood pressure.
Stress may be a major factor in your life. You may rely on unhealthy habits to ease your stress, like smoking, alcohol, and overeating. All of these things can lead to other health problems.
Cut down on alcohol, if you drink more than 1-2 drinks a day. A person with high blood pressure can usually drink once in a while.
Changing your habits is a very hard thing to do, and many people can feel overwhelmed with the changes they're told they need to make, especially when they were not feeling that bad to begin with. Just keep in mind that one healthy choice is better than none, and take it one day at a time.

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