Even if your doctor has
prescribed medicine for you, you can still take many steps at home to lower
your blood pressure and reduce your risk. Some people can even take less
medicine after making these changes.
What changes do you need to make?
lifestyle changes to help lower your blood pressure:
Lose extra weight.
If you are overweight, losing as little as 10 lb (4.5 kg) may lower your blood
pressure. It may also allow you to take less blood pressure medicine. Losing
weight may also lower your cholesterol.
Eat healthy foods. Getting enough of the nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy
products helps lower blood pressure. Use the DASH eating plan as a guide. See the topic High Blood Pressure: Nutrition Tips.
Don't smoke. Nicotine
temporarily increases blood pressure and heart rate with each use. Smoking also
causes the arteries to tighten (constrict), which also increases blood
pressure. For more information, see the topic
Manage stress. Your
blood pressure increases when you are under stress. Relaxation techniques,
including progressive muscle relaxation and meditation, may help lower mild
high blood pressure. For more information, see the topic
Check your own blood pressure. A
home blood pressure monitor makes it easy to keep
track of your blood pressure. Seeing those small improvements can motivate
you to keep going with your lifestyle changes.
Making any kind of change in the way you live your
daily life is like being on a path. The path leads to success. Here are the
first steps on that path:
Have your own reason for making a change. If you do it because someone else wants you
to, you're less likely to have success. When you have high blood pressure, the reason for making lifestyle changes is
clear: to lower your blood pressure. If you don't feel ready now, learn more about high blood
pressure and the damage it can do. When you truly want to make changes, you're
ready for the next step.
Set goals. Include long-term goals as well as short-term goals that you can
measure easily. Your
doctor can help you figure out what your long-term goals should be for your
blood pressure. Short-term
goals are the small steps you take, week by week, to improve your
Measure improvements to
your health. Before you make lifestyle changes, ask your doctor
to check your blood pressure. Then, as you start to make changes, have your
blood pressure checked often, and keep track of the numbers. You can buy a home blood pressure monitor that is easy to use.
Think about what might get in your way, and
prepare for slip-ups. By
thinking about these barriers now, you can plan ahead for how to deal with them
if they happen. Use a
personal action plan(What is a PDF document?) to write down your barriers and backup plans.
Get support from your
family, your doctor, and your friends. Tell them about your long-term and short-term goals and how they can help.