People joke about it in stressful situations, and it’s one of the first things your doctor checks with that big rubber arm cuff when you come into the office.
Blood pressure, simply described, is the pressure that your blood puts on the arteries that carry it through your body. When that pressure stays too high, it can have negative effects on your health such as organ damage, heart attack, strokes, and more.
High blood pressure can be caused by certain health conditions such as diabetes and obesity, as well as not getting a healthy amount of exercise or eating well. If you’re concerned about this aspect of your health, here are some small, daily steps that can help you lower your blood pressure.
- Balance nutrients. Eating less sodium (under 1,500 mg daily) and eating more potassium (found in foods like sweet potatoes, bananas, and spinach) can help ease your blood pressure down. (If you’re already on blood pressure medications, first talk with your doctor about your potassium intake as certain medications affect potassium levels.) Consuming food with probiotics – such as yogurt – can also help.
- Get moving. Daily aerobic activity, such as jogging, brisk walking, or swimming, is invaluable to a healthy heart. Shoot for 30 minutes a day (if you have health concerns around exercise, talk to your doctor first).
- Watch substance use. Too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and sometimes interfere with blood pressure medications. Smoking is also proven to increase blood pressure and increase risk of heart disease.
If you’re experiencing blood pressure issues, it’s crucial to talk to your primary care physician. Treatment might be a combination of the steps above and medication, but your doctor will help you make a plan to bring it down.