The day is finally here; you’re about to have your annual physical exam. You’re a bit nervous, but you soothe yourself with positive thoughts. Everything will be fine, you repeat, until you hear the dreaded words “Your pressure is high and we have to control it”. Relax; we’ve got you covered. Hypertension is manageable and if you follow these simple tips, you’ll be able to lead a normal life.
What is hypertension? When your heart beats, it pushes blood through your arteries to the rest of your body. When the blood pushes harder against the walls of your arteries, your blood pressure goes up. High blood pressure (or Presión Alta) is a blood pressure reading above 140/90 mmHg. A high reading puts you at risk for a number of serious health conditions, including stroke and heart disease.
From quitting smoking to breathing exercises, here are some helpful tips on living with and managing your hypertension:
1. Eat a balanced and healthy diet
Eat a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and skimps on sodium, saturated fats and alcohol. An easy way to achieve this is to add fruits to your breakfast and vegetables to your lunch and dinner.
2. Get up and exercise!
We’re not asking you to run a 10K marathon but regular cardiovascular activity, at least 30 minutes a day, can help lower your blood pressure. The best types of exercise for lowering blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming and even dancing!
3. Say no to tobacco.
If you want to live a long and healthy life, avoid tobacco. Did you know that as soon as you quit smoking, your health starts to improve immediately? The detrimental effects on blood circulation begin to mitigate within 12 minutes of smoking cessation. Within 20 minutes, the heightened blood pressure from nicotine descends to a normal range. By 2-3 weeks, your circulatory system and artery pressure improves dramatically.
4. Breathe. Live one day at a time and say goodbye to stress.
In today’s fast-paced world filled with increasing demands, it’s important to manage your stress level. Stress unquestionably affects our bodies. In addition to the emotional distress we feel when faced with a stressful situation, our bodies react by releasing a hormone called cortisol into the blood. Cortisol makes your heart beat faster increasing your blood pressure in return.
Cope with stress by practicing breathing and relaxation exercises. You can also take some time out of your busy schedule to listen to music, watch TV or read. As long as the activity relaxes you, anything is allowed.
Hypertension is generally manageable if you follow your doctor’s advice. If you have questions or doubts, nobody will answer them better than him.