Top 3 Lifestyle Changes to Lower High Blood Pressure

While many people take medication to reduce their blood pressure, almost half of high blood pressure cases are not well controlled by medication alone. High blood pressure is one of the most common medical conditions in the U.S. A reading of >130/80 mm Hg or higher is considered high blood pressure (also known as stage 1 hypertension). Patients with hypertension are at a higher risk for conditions such as heart attack or stroke.

While many people take medication to reduce their blood pressure, almost half of high blood pressure cases are not well controlled by medication alone. Making lifestyle changes can make a significant difference in reducing blood pressure. Here are three essential tips to help reduce your blood pressure through healthy habits:

1. Reduce Your Sodium Intake

Sodium constitutes one-half of the chemical compound sodium chloride, also known as table salt. Consuming excess salt in your diet has been linked with high blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends an ideal limit of 1,500 mg of sodium per day to help lower blood pressure. Reducing your salt intake involves more than leaving the saltshaker off the table. Many pre-packaged and processed foods contain added sodium that can lead to elevated blood pressure. When possible, opt for whole, unprocessed foods. If you do include processed or pre-packaged food in your diet, be sure to check the labels. Fortunately, there are many no-sodium or low-sodium alternatives. Consider those options whenever possible.

2. Exercise

Regular exercise is effective in reducing blood pressure. It’s recommended to get about 2 and a half hours of moderate cardiovascular activity weekly. Moderate exercise can be measured by how you feel when you are exercising. If your heart rate is elevated and you are breathing heavier than usual, but still able to hold a conversation with someone, this is considered moderate exercise. Whatever exercise you like best is the one that’s right for you. Examples of cardiovascular exercise include walking, biking, swimming, hiking, or aerobics. Additionally, distributing your exercise time throughout the week can be beneficial.

3. Stress Management

In our fast-paced world, we constantly face a barrage of stressful events. Chronic stress can keep blood pressure levels elevated, making it essential to manage stress effectively. First, identify your stressors. If there are things that cause you stress that you can change, change them. If there are things you can’t change, learn to adapt to these stressors and don’t let them take over your life. It’s also okay to say no when someone asks you for something that will cause you more stress. Calming activities like meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises may also aid in lowering stress levels. In addition, therapy and medication can be beneficial.

Lowering blood pressure not only decreases your risk of heart disease but may contribute to an overall healthier life. There are many other lifestyle changes you can implement to lower your blood pressure to healthy levels, so be sure to talk to your Board Certified PA about what you can do.

Picture of Maddison Heyn, PA-C, DipACLM

Maddison Heyn, PA-C, DipACLM

Maddison Heyn, PA-C, DipACLM, graduated from the University of Utah PA program in 2017 and practiced in general pediatrics for four years. She then moved to her current specialty in lifestyle medicine for Intermountain Health, where she has been enjoying helping patients of all ages live their healthiest lives possible. She is board certified in lifestyle medicine through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.