We’re going to kick off this blog with three eye-opening statistics: Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; 90% of heart disease is preventable; and nearly half of people in the US (47%) have high blood pressure.
As a major contributor to heart disease, hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one area in which you can make a meaningful difference.
At LaSante Health Center, our experienced team of health care providers specializes in primary care, and a major goal of ours is to focus on preventive care.
When it comes to hypertension, our internal medicine specialists pulled together seven small changes you can make that can go a long way toward preventing you from becoming another sad statistic of heart disease.
While we can do our part by prescribing medications, the steps you take are equally as effective — and they don’t have to be big.
Ditch the salt
The first step should be to grab that salt shaker and get it off the table. When you have high blood pressure, you need to avoid salt and sodium as much as you can.
There are plenty of substitutes for seasoning your food, such as garlic or lemon. Also, pay attention to labels, as some foods are very high in sodium, such as deli meats, frozen pizza, and canned foods like ravioli.
The next step to take to lower your blood pressure is quite literal. Exercise is a critical component for lowering your blood pressure. So, get outside and walk around the neighborhood or to your nearest park at least once a day.
For accountability, you can use most smartphones to track your steps, and we’d love to see you get at least 5,000 each day.
We know we promised easy modifications, but this one is too important to ignore. Smoking is a primary risk factor for hypertension, and a host of other health issues, so use lowering your blood pressure as another reason for why you should quit.
Any steps that you take to reduce stress in your life are well worth taking. Perhaps you can carve out time to read, listen to music, take a bath, or even try a little deep breathing or meditation. You can also try to avoid sources of stress more, starting with turning off the news.
Increase potassium in your diet
Potassium delivers a double whammy when it comes to lowering your blood pressure. First, it offsets sodium, and second, it releases tension in your blood vessels.
Foods that are good sources of potassium include bananas, oranges, low-fat yogurt, fish, tomatoes, greens, and potatoes.
Get your zzz’s
When you’re deep in sleep, your heart and breathing rates lower, giving these systems a much-needed break. So, to lower your blood pressure, we recommend sticking to a sleep routine in which you get 7-9 hours each night.
Substitute for a processed snack
If you like snacking on processed foods, we challenge you to substitute one snack each day with a healthier option.
For example, instead of a small bag of chips, munch on a handful of baby carrots or almonds. Feeling like something sweet? Avoid the cookies and opt for a piece of fruit, such as an apple. This simple substitution can make a difference.
If you’d like a more individualized plan for lowering your high blood pressure, we invite you to contact our clinic in Brooklyn, New York, today to schedule an appointment. We serve the Flatbush and East Flatbush, Crown Heights, Park Slope, Little Haiti, Little Caribbean, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens communities.