Do you know what your blood pressure is? Or even what it should be? Since February is American Heart Month, it's a great time to learn more about your heart — including your blood pressure.
Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers, with one on top and the other on the bottom. The healthy range for blood pressure is a top number between 90 and 120 and a bottom number between 60 and 80. If you don't know your blood pressure or haven't had a blood pressure reading in more than two years, set up an appointment with your healthcare provider.
If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause kidney damage and lead to other heart problems like stroke, heart attack and heart failure. Additionally, having high blood pressure can increase your risk of aneurysm and cognitive decline.
Medication can help lower blood pressure, but it can also lead to side effects like leg cramps, dizziness and insomnia. Fortunately, there are a number of natural ways you can lower your blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is high, make these lifestyle changes to keep your blood pressure in check.
Quit smoking. If you're a smoker, you should quit smoking immediately. In addition to raising your blood pressure, smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease, cancer and stroke. If you're struggling to quit smoking, contact the experts at Goshen Health's smoking cessation program at (574) 364-2587.
Watch your weight. When your weight goes up, so does your blood pressure. Losing just 10 pounds can reduce your blood pressure. Don't forget to watch your waistline as well — carrying extra weight around your waist can increase your high blood pressure risk.
Work out regularly. Consistent physical activity can lower your blood pressure. Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing and strength training are excellent workout choices. Try to get in 30 minutes of physical activity per day.
Eat a healthy diet. Try to eat plenty of lean protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Stay away from saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium, all of which can cause elevated blood pressure. To cut back on these harmful ingredients, try to reduce or eliminate your intake of butter, red meat, fried foods, salty snacks and processed, packaged foods.
Cut the sodium in your diet. Removing a small amount of sodium from your diet can have a big impact on blood pressure. Start by reading food labels, eating fewer processed foods and skipping the salt.
Some other great ways to keep your heart healthy include limiting your alcohol intake, cutting back on caffeine and finding ways to reduce stress. Contact a primary care provider with Goshen Physicians to check your blood pressure and learn more ways to care for your heart.