7 WAYS TO LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, raises your risk for heart disease. Blood pressure is the force your blood makes against your artery walls when your heartbeats. If this force (pressure) is too high, it can damage your heart over time.
Your risk for high blood pressure goes up as you age. Two out of every 3 women 60 and older have high blood pressure.
You are also more likely to have high blood pressure if you have a family history of high blood pressure. Other risk factors for high blood pressure include eating unhealthy food often, not exercising, and being overweight.
In the United States, African-American women are at the highest risk for high blood pressure. This may be because African-American women are more likely to be obese or have diabetes, which can cause high blood pressure. Research has also found a gene common in African-Americans that increases sensitivity to salt. In people who have this gene, just one extra half a teaspoon of salt a day could raise blood pressure. Also, studies show that blood pressure levels are higher among African-Americans in the United States even after controlling for other health factors, and some of the difference is likely due to the effects of discrimination.
Many women more than men get “white coat hypertension.” This means that your anxiety or stress level goes up when you are at the doctor’s office, and this can make your blood pressure go up. If medical visits increase your anxiety level, ask your doctor for a monitor to wear at home to get a more accurate blood pressure reading.
High blood pressure does not usually have symptoms. The only way to know you have it is to get your blood pressure measured. Measure your blood pressure to find out your numbers:
Systolic (the first or top number) is the pressure as your heart beats or pumps blood into your arteries.
Diastolic (the second or bottom number) is the pressure when your heart is at rest.
To lower your risk for heart disease, try to lower your blood pressure levels to less than 120 systolic/80 diastolic. To lower your blood pressure:
1. Lose weight if you have overweight.
2. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days.
3. Don’t smoke.
4. Eat healthily.
5. Lower sodium in your diet.
6. Don’t drink alcohol, or drink only in moderation.
7. Take blood pressure medicine if your doctor prescribes it.