If high blood pressure is a concern, it takes a team of health care professionals to work with you at maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Each person’s background and health profile requires consideration specific to the individual. Below are some general suggestions for minimizing your risk of high blood pressure.
- Take time to relax. Relaxation training and meditation help to reduce blood pressure. It’s important to take time out of our busy lives to break the constant cycle of stress and busyness. We are a society of “doing”, which also supports heart attacks and strokes!
- Herbert Benson developed the relaxation response technique. In 1975 Benson and Klipper performed a study which had participants doing two 20 minute periods each day of quiet meditation, the average blood pressure in the beginning of the study was 146/93.5, after several weeks of disciplined practice the average blood pressure dropped to 137/88.9!
- Massage therapy with a trained therapist can also help to teach you relaxation techniques. Massage, with specific modifications, can also be considered as an important support in your blood pressure treatment. The main goal with massage will be relaxation and stress relief, helping to soothe the body and the mind, which will in effect reduce and break the stress response in the body. Massage therapy can also cause dilation to the blood vessels in the limbs, which will in effect lower blood pressure, even just temporarily!
- Maintain a healthy body weight. If you are overweight, losing even a small amount of weight can help to reduce your blood pressure and support a healthy heart.
- Eat a healthy, balanced, reduced-fat diet. A high fibre, low fat diet will help to keep your blood pressure down, also reduce the amount of salt in your diet. Salt causes the body to retain water, which as a result increases blood pressure. Eating adequate calcium, magnesium and potassium are also important in blood pressure maintenance. Speaking to anaturopath, a homeopath, or a nutritionist will supply you with a wealth of information on dietary and supplemental supports for high blood pressure. They will also inform you of foods which should be avoided!
- Participate in regular physical activity. Exercise helps to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and increase your overall cardiovascular health – just to name a few benefits! Start slowly and gradually build up your level of activity. Aim to do 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week!
- Limit alcohol intake to a maximum of two drinks a day. One drink is defined as 1 ounce of 80 proof spirit, 8 ounces of wine, or 10 ounces of beer. Excessive alcohol will increase blood pressure and the risk of a stroke.
- Be smoke-free. Smoking temporarily raises blood pressure; it also leads to hardening of the arteries creating increased constriction in the blood vessels. Nicotine constricts the small blood vessels by about 30%.
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