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Article written by R.D. Andrea Marincovich
Exclusively for balancedhabits

What Is High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure simply means that the heart is having to work a lot to harder to pump blood throughout the body. There are two types of high blood pressure; primary high blood pressure (most common) develops over the course of an individuals life and is likely caused by plaque build up in the blood vessels (as shown above) due to unhealthy lifestyle choices and secondary high blood pressure develops due to a medical condition and/or medications being used to treat that medical condition. High blood pressure (also known as Hypertension) is categorized by consistent blood pressure readings of 140/90 in comparison to normal blood pressure being 120/80.

Why Is Monitoring Your Blood Pressure Important?

While high blood pressure may not effect your daily life, it has the ability to instigate far more serious health complications that can lead to life threatening outcomes (i.e. strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, etc.). If you are diagnosed with secondary high blood pressure, it’s important to work with your primary physician to be placed on the proper medication to control the contributing medical condition and then make the appropriate lifestyle changes to prevent any further health problems. If you are experiencing blood pressure readings between 120/80 and 140/90 or have been diagnosed with primary high blood pressure, follow the lifestyle changes mentioned below to help get your blood pressure under control.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent or Lower High Blood Pressure

#1 Select low-sodium foods: it is essential to read all nutrition facts for the foods you are consuming because many have added salt just as a preservative. It’s a good idea to avoid fast food and processed foods if you are monitoring your sodium intake, but in case you do select these options, look for no salt added or low sodium processed items and when eating out avoid condiments and ask them not to put salt your food. Fun fact: all fresh fruits and vegetables are low in sodium! 🙂

#2 Eat a heart-healthy diet: meaning to mainly consume fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, non-fat or low-fat dairy, lean proteins and to avoid red meat, high fat dairy, high saturated fat oils (i.e. coconut and palm oil), butter, high sugar foods and drinks.

#3 Get in at least 30 minutes of cardio 5 days a week (American Heart Association recommendation): start walking, riding your bike, swimming, running, or anything to get that heart pumping!

#4 Maintain a healthy body weight: if you are not where you need to be weight wise, know that lowering your body weight by just 3 to 5 percent lowers your risk of getting heart disease. Follow the diet guidelines above and you will be well on your way!

#4 Limit your alcohol intake: the sad truth is that regular alcohol consumption regularly raises your blood pressure, choose water instead (it will also help you with your waist line!)

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