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Five lifestyle changes to lower high blood pressure

Nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Since there are usually no symptoms connected with high blood pressure, many people are unaware that they have it. People with uncontrolled blood pressure don’t realize that the force of the blood flowing through veins at consistently high levels is gradually damaging arteries. This damage allows LDL cholesterol to accumulate in the tears in the artery walls and increases the risk for heart attack, strokes and other serious conditions. There is no cure for high blood pressure but it can be managed through medications and lifestyle changes.

Here are five lifestyle changes from Mayo Clinic that can get you started on controlling your high blood pressure. Remember that these changes need to be a permanent part of your daily life, not a temporary fix.

1. Watch your waistline.
Being overweight can increase your blood pressure. Simply losing 10 pounds can reduce your blood pressure. In addition to your total weight, keep an eye on your waist measurement since too much weight in this area increases high blood pressure risks. In general, men are at risk if their waist measurement is more than 40 inches and women’s risk increases at 35 inches. These numbers can vary but are helpful general guidelines

2. Get moving
Regular physical activity has a big impact on lowering your blood pressure. Whether you take a walk, a bike ride or go swimming, getting in 30 minutes of exercise each day makes a significant difference. It is important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise. Remember that all 30 minutes don’t have to happen at once. Three 10-minute walks a day after each meal can be effective.

3. Rethink mealtime
It is time to try some new meal options that are focused on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy. Avoid saturated fat and cholesterol. Try boosting the amount of potassium since it counteracts the affects of sodium on blood pressure. Avocados, squash, tomatoes, potatoes and spinach are just some of the potassium rich food options. The best potassium source is found in food rather than supplements so try to include these potassium packed choices in your diet.

4. Be a salt sleuth
Reducing the amount of sodium in your diet can lower your blood pressure but the key is finding the sodium. The general guideline is to have less that 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day but some people need to reduce this amount to less that 1,500 milligrams a day. Read the labels of the foods and beverages you consume and you might be surprised by the amount of sodium. One slice of deli ham can contain 300 milligrams of sodium and some canned soups have 1,300 milligrams of sodium. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods so avoid processed mixes and canned goods and cook from scratch when possible.

5. Control happy hour
The good news is that a small amount of alcohol can potentially lower your blood pressure. The bad news is that too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. The general guideline is to limit yourself to one drink per day if you are 65 or older and two if you are younger than 65. Remember that a “drink” means 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

During recovery
Controlling high blood pressure becomes even more important during a time of recovery following a hospital stay. Some people experience high blood pressure for the first time or find their high blood pressure increasing in severity after a medical event. This can be due to a variety of reasons including pain levels, anesthesia and post-surgical pain medications. Although this spike in blood pressure can be temporary, it still needs attention. Choosing to recover in a short-term care center is an ideal way to address any possible high blood pressure issues. Attentive staff can monitor blood pressure along with other symptoms and effectively manage any issues that arrive.

Part of making the decision to have your medical needs addressed should include a plan for recovery. One of the North Shore’s leading rehabilitation and health care centers, which can deliver effective care during recovery, is Glenview Terrace. Guests who choose Glenview Terrace can be assured that their high blood pressure and other symptoms will be managed quickly, receiving individualized care delivered by a multidisciplinary team and overseen by a board-certified physician. Therapists work with guests one-on-one to get them up and moving at a pace that will move them safely toward recovery. Glenview Terrace also has a fully equipped gym to assist guests in regaining strength, balance and flexibility.

All of this highly qualified care is delivered in an elegant setting featuring meticulously landscaped grounds and spacious, well-appointed rooms. Guests can enjoy nutritious meals filled with the protein and vitamins needed to enhance the healing process. There are many opportunities for interaction with others during planned activities. Guests can also choose to relax in their rooms with an array of amenities like dozens of cable channels and movie options, concierge service and much more.

Team up with experts at Glenview Terrace for the best recovery outcome possible. For additional information or to arrange a tour, visit or call 847-729-9090.

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