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Heart Health: Tips for Managing Hypertension

Heart Health: Tips for Managing Hypertension

Your heart is a vital organ, and you want to keep it as healthy as possible as you age. One condition that can impact your heart health is hypertension or high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, it means that the blood is pushing too hard against the vessel walls. The force of your blood pumping can damage your arteries over time and put stress on your heart. It can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, and even vision loss.

Unfortunately, many seniors don’t even realize they have hypertension because there are no noticeable symptoms. It is diagnosed through tracking blood pressure readings. If your blood pressure is consistently at 130/80 or higher, then you may have hypertension.

While medication is typically used to keep blood pressure within a safer range, there are lifestyle changes you can make to help as well.

Stay Physically Active

As a general rule of thumb, you want to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week. You don’t have to pick just one exercise either. Switch things up to find what you enjoy most so working out isn’t a chore. Go walking or jogging with friends. Spend time biking or swimming. Sign up for a dance class or join a senior fitness program. Keep your body moving and do a combination of cardio and strength training.

Regular exercise can also help you manage your weight, which can play a role in reducing high blood pressure. Losing even a few pounds can help decrease strain on your heart and blood vessels. Talk to your doctor about their recommendations for exercise and weight management.

Decrease Your Salt Intake

Salt can be a major contributor to hypertension, and you may be consuming more than you realize. Ideally your sodium intake should be around 1,500 mg or less per day. Make sure you are carefully reading labels – and serving sizes – on the foods you eat. Processed and packaged foods tend to be higher in sodium than fresh ones. If buying canned products, look for ones that have no salt added, unsalted, or low sodium.

Create a well-balanced diet that incorporates plenty of fresh or flash frozen fruits and vegetables along with lean meats and whole grains. Instead of using salt to enhance flavor, try adding a variety of herbs, spices, and other salt-free seasonings.

Quit Smoking

Smoking can be a difficult habit to break, but worth it for your health. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels meaning less blood can flow through them and your heart must work harder. It can also increase the risk of plaque buildup in your arteries, which in combination with high blood pressure, can elevate your risk of a stroke or heart attack.

Monitor Your Blood Pressure

Check your blood pressure periodically during the day to see if it remains high or stays within your target range. Note what you’re doing when you check it as well, whether you had just been exercising, sleeping, or were feeling stressed. Tracking these trends can help you to see whether your lifestyle changes are making an impact. Make sure you share these notes with your doctor.

Partnering with an in-home care provider can help you better manage your heart health. A caregiver can remind you to take your blood pressure medication, help you create a low-sodium diet and prepare meals, and encourage you to stay physically active. Plus, they can be a wonderful companion to talk to who can provide support as you navigate these changes. Contact Always Best Care at (855) 470-2273 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about the benefits of in-home care.