Cutting down on salt may help lower your blood pressure. And most Americans need to cut back, because they get more sodium than they should.
The American Heart Association recommends getting less than 2,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day, unless you have high blood pressure or if you are at risk (if you already have hypertension, have diabetes or kidney disease or are African American). That's less than a teaspoon from all your meals and snacks.
Start with these tips:
Break the habit of...
Your diastolic pressure -- the second, or bottom, number in a blood pressure reading -- suddenly shoots above 120 ,or your systolic pressure, the first number, is over 180; you may have malignant hypertension (also known as ''hypertensive emergency''), a life-threatening condition that can result in heart attack, stroke, kidney and eye problems.
You are pregnant and develop hypertension; symptoms may include severe headache and sudden swelling of the legs. High blood pressure during pregnancy can affect not only your own health, but also the health of your unborn child.
You're taking drugs for high blood pressure and experiencing worrisome side effects, such as angioedema (swelling of your mouth or tongue), drowsiness, constipation, dizziness, or loss of sexual function; your doctor may prescribe a different anti-hypertensive drug.
JAMA Express, "Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressue," (JNC VII), May 15, 2003.
"Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association," Summer 2003.
Elliot W., "Clinical Features and Management of Selected Hypertensive Emergencies," Journal of Clinical Malignant Phase Hypertension, The West Birmingham Malignant Hypertension Register. Journal of Human Hypertension, Jan. 2005.