(Baptist Health) – According to the American Heart Association (AHA), nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure. So if you’re wondering how to lower yours, you’re not alone. Not sure how to get started? These four tips can help lower your blood pressure, which can help reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack and other serious health threats.
1. Know your numbers. Most people with high blood pressure should aim for readings below 130/80 mm Hg, the AHA advises. But if you haven’t already, talk with your doctor about your blood pressure goals. To know if you’re reaching them, you may want to keep track of your blood pressure at home.
2. Choose sensible lifestyle changes. Doctors often advise lifestyle changes as the first step for blood pressure control. Key ones include cutting back on sodium, exercising more, eating better and trimming down.
For changes that stick, focus on one manageable change at a time so you won’t feel overwhelmed, the American Psychological Association advises. Here are a few ideas:
- To cut back on sodium, taste food before you add salt. If you think it needs a flavor boost, add a dash of black pepper or a squeeze of fresh lemon.
- To move more if you rarely exercise, commit to a brief brisk walk—say, 10 minutes—twice a week.
- To eat better, replace white bread with whole-grain bread.
- To lose weight, swap sugary soda for sparkling water with a splash of juice.
Once a change becomes a habit, move on to another doable goal.
3. Build in some fun. Take the “work” out of workouts with a dance class—like salsa, jazz or tap. Or boost your diet with a healthy cooking class. Play tag with your kids, sign up for a 5K walk, or run with a friend. If you love the outdoors, head to a nearby park for a hike.
And don’t forget to celebrate your successes. When you drop 5 pounds or complete that 5K race, treat yourself to new workout clothes or downtime doing something you enjoy.
4. Make medicine a priority. To get the most out of any high blood pressure medicine your doctor prescribes, you need to take it exactly as directed. If it’s hard to afford your medicine, tell your doctor or pharmacist. There may be a cheaper, generic version. Or you may be eligible for a patient assistance program.
Learn more about blood pressure
Check out our High Blood Pressure health topic center to find out more about controlling hypertension.