There’s no way to discuss the benefits of getting your blood pressure numbers within healthy ranges without understanding the alternative, which is serious. High blood pressure affects nearly half the adult population in the United States — and it’s also a condition that contributed to nearly 700,000 deaths in 2021 alone.

As a primary risk factor for serious heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S., high blood pressure is well worth addressing. The good news is that you can reduce this risk factor by making a few changes, five of which the team here South Shore Cardiovascular Associates outlines below. 

1. Reduce sodium

Let’s start with a relatively easy step toward lowering your blood pressure, which is to reduce the amount of sodium you consume. Americans take in an average of 3,400 milligrams (mgs) of sodium a day, but the recommended daily allowance is lower than 2,300 mg per day if you have normal blood pressure and about 1,300 if you have hypertension.

Reducing sodium goes far beyond removing the salt shaker from your table, because sodium lurks in most processed foods — even in the water in canned vegetables. So, read labels closely and get your sodium intake below 2,300 mg — or lower, if you can.

2. Get moving

One of the reasons why high blood pressure rates are so high in the U.S. is that we’ve become more sedentary. If you want to lower your blood pressure and boost your health, we recommend moving as much as you can. 

Get together with a friend and go for a walk, consider riding your bike instead of taking the car, join an online exercise class — any activity that gets you up and moving is great. In fact, you can make a simple rule that for every hour you sit, you get up and move around for 5 or 10 minutes.

3. Quit smoking

The list of reasons why you should quit smoking is long, and lowering your blood pressure should be right at the top.

We know that quitting a habit like smoking is easier said than done, but we’re here to help, and we can point you in the right direction for smoking cessation resources.

4. Lose weight

Another easier-said-than-done step is losing weight, but being overweight or having obesity accounts for 25-30% of cases of high blood pressure. Losing just 5-10% of your total body weight can lower your blood pressure and boost your cardiovascular health in meaningful ways.

Here again, we’re happy to help you find the right tools to help you lose weight.

5. Monitor your blood pressure

If you’re going to follow some of the steps we outlined above, we urge you not to do so in the dark. We want you to first come see us for a baseline evaluation and blood pressure reading. During this evaluation, we’ll go over the best way to monitor your blood pressure on your own, so you can track your progress. Whether it’s buying an at-home blood pressure monitor or coming to see us for regular check-ups, it’s important to have a good handle on your numbers and your goals.

For a more tailored plan for lowering your blood pressure, we invite you to book an appointment online or over the phone with South Shore Cardiovascular Associates today. We have offices in Brandon, Riverview, Tampa, and Sun City Center, Florida.

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