High Blood Pressure Lifestyle Education

What You Can Do to Help Your High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major health concern for any patient. Certain steps can be taken to help with the prevention and maintenance of high blood pressure. Most patients with high blood pressure will be on some form of medication. In addition to the medication, patients can help themselves by changing the way they eat, increase their physical activity, as well as losing weight and quitting smoking if needed.


What Should I Be Eating?

Healthy eating to help reduce blood pressure starts with reducing the amount of sodium (salt) you are taking in as well as increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while exchanging high fat meats and dairy for lean meats and low fat dairy.

People with high blood pressure need to watch the amount of fat taken in since you are at a higher risk of heart disease.

Increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains increases the amount of fiber which helps to keep you healthy.



What is the Dash Diet?

The Dash Diet is a healthy eating plan to help patients with high blood pressure to help to lower their blood pressure and to improve their overall health. Your goal should be to consume 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day and to have at least half of your grain servings as whole grains. Secondly, you should limit red meat and sweets to no more than three times per week and limit the amount of fat you take in. Lastly, sodium, or salt, needs to be greatly decreased.



Why do I have to limit the amount of sodium? How much can I have?

Sodium, or salt, causes the body to hold on to fluid. The more fluid the body holds onto, the harder the heart has to work. This increases your blood pressure. Common signs that you are getting in too much sodium are swelling in the hands and the feet. Sodium should be limited to no more than 2300mg per day.  The easiest ways to limit sodium is to not add salt to foods, that includes some seasoning blends, and to limit preprocessed foods or foods that are ready to eat. By using seasoning blends such as Mrs. Dash and by choosing less canned and packaged goods, you will reduce the amount of sodium you take in by at least half.


And don’t forget to get active! At least 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week. All you have to do is walk!




Associated URL: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf