High blood pressure: Six small changes to make a big difference in your reading

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Reducing your blood pressure reading is a protective measure against heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, eye disease and cognitive decline. Here are some “small changes” you can make. “By far the most effective means of reducing elevated blood pressure is to lose weight,” said Dr Fisher. This can be achieved by half an hour of movement daily. “Make sure you’re doing something you love, or it won’t stick,” Dr Fisher advised.

“For some that means dancing; for others, biking or taking brisk walks with a friend.”

While shedding the pounds is extremely helpful in lowering blood pressure readings, Dr Fisher wants people to do some weightlifting.

“Weightlifting is often an overlooked part of an exercise plan,” she explained.

The benefits of weightlifting include increasing muscle mass and helping a person to tone up.

In terms of body weight, it helps to be mindful of what you eat – Dr Fisher recommends getting into the habit of reading nutrition labels.

In particular, watch out for foods with high salt content – salt (i.e. sodium) can directly increase blood pressure.

Beware of the salt content in:

  • Breads and rolls
  • Cold cuts and cured meat
  • Pizza
  • Poultry
  • Soup
  • Sandwiches.

People “eat far too much dietary sodium”, Dr Fisher announced.

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Dr Fisher also suggests “limiting alcohol to one drink per day”.

“Drinking too much, too often, can increase your blood pressure, so practise moderation,” she elaborated.

Another tip from Dr Fisher is to craft time for stress reduction.

Stress hormones – such as cortisol – constrict the blood vessels, leading to temporary spikes in blood pressure.

Furthermore, continuous levels of stress can trigger unhealthy habits, which might include:

  • Overeating
  • Poor sleep
  • Misusing alcohol or drugs.

Reducing stress levels should be a priority, which may be helped with daily meditation or deep breathing sessions.

Six strategies to lower blood pressure

  1. Lose weight
  2. Exercise more
  3. Lift weights
  4. Read nutrition labels
  5. Limit alcohol
  6. Relieve stress

The NHS added that you can lower your blood pressure by cutting down on caffeine.

“Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day may increase your blood pressure,” said the national health body.

Caffeinated beverages include cola, energy drinks, tea and coffee.

It’s important that tea and coffee “are not your main or only source of fluid”.

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