How is high blood pressure treated or prevented with lifestyle changes?

High blood pressure cannot be cured. It can be controlled through a combination of lifestyle changes and/or medication. By following your doctor’s advice to control your blood pressure, you may add years to your life. It’s important to remember that when you stop treating your blood pressure, either through diet changes and/or medicine, it will go up again. The goal of any treatment is to have blood pressure consistently below 140/90.

For people with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, the goal is pressure consistently below 130/80.

Here are some suggestions for reducing and controlling high blood pressure.

  1. Overweight people with high blood pressure are advised to reduce their weight to ideal levels.
  2. Reduce the amount of salt you use. Use more spices to flavor food.
  3. Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends men limit their drinking to no more than two drinks per day. Women and older people should have no more than one drink per day. If you have tried to cut back on your use of alcohol, but failed, seek help. Contact your doctor, local mental health center or organizations that specialize in alcohol (substance) abuse.
  4. Do some type of moderate physical/aerobic exercise. Do at least 30 minutes of walking, treadmill, rowing, cycling, swimming – any exercise – daily. This may be done in 10-minute segments if you wish.
  5. Stop smoking. For help, go to the Tobacco Information and Prevention Source (TIPS) on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.
  6. Eat more fruits and vegetables, grains and low-fat dairy foods. Eating foods that contain potassium, calcium, magnesium and fish oils helps prevent hypertension. Sources of potassium are bananas, orange juice and potatoes. Sources of calcium are dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Other sources of calcium are canned salmon and sardines, and green leafy vegetables like spinach. Magnesium is present in grains, beans, nuts and avocados.
  7. Have your doctor regularly check your blood pressure, and take the medicine your doctor prescribes at the same time every day.

You don’t have to try to make all of these changes immediately. Try to focus on one at a time. Once it becomes part of your normal routine, you can go on to the next change. Sometimes, one change leads naturally to another. For example, increasing physical activity will help you lose weight.

To learn more:

The DASH Eating Plan
(National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
The National Institute of Health provides information about a clinically proven diet to reduce high blood pressure.

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Written by: Janice C. May, M.P.A.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey G. Schultze, M.D.
Last Modified: Monday November 04, 2019 8:31 PM