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Managing Blood Pressure
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Managing blood pressure

Every time your heart beats, it pumps blood away from the heart to the rest of your body in vessels called arteries. Therefore, it’s the force of your blood on the walls of your arteries as it is pumped through the body.

Blood pressure is measured in mmHg and has two numbers. The first number, or ‘systolic’ measurement, is taken as your heart pumps and the second number, or ‘diastolic’ measurement, as your heart relaxes. The first figure is the systolic measurement and the second figure is the diastolic measurement, so it’s systolic over diastolic. e.g. 124/80

Blood pressure is variable and naturally goes up and down during the day. This is normal and is quite different from being diagnosed with ‘high’ blood pressure.

Simple changes to your lifestyle may help to manage high blood pressure.

What is a healthy blood pressure?

A blood pressure of 120 over 80 (120/80) mmHg or below is known as optimal or healthy, blood pressure. Above 140/90 mmHg is high and anything in between the two is elevated. Although very low blood pressure is no good either, lower blood pressure is better for your heart than high blood pressure.

Managing high blood pressure

Blood pressure depends on many factors, including your age and family history. Simple changes to your diet and lifestyle may help to manage high blood pressure and bring it down to a healthier level. It’s often difficult to tell if you’ve got high blood pressure, as there are rarely any symptoms. That’s why it’s important that you have regular check-ups with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. And if you are concerned about your blood pressure, you should always talk to your doctor first.

Simple changes that help manage blood pressure

It’s important that you have regular check-ups with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Reduce the amount of salt in your diet
Did you know that too much salt in your diet could have a direct effect on your blood pressure? Like many people, you are probably eating more salt than you need without realising. You can control how much salt you include in your diet by: 
Avoiding salty snacks like cheese, crisps and salted nuts. Cutting back on the amount of salt you add to your cooking and/or use a low sodium salt.

Have a laugh
We all like to have a laugh! So, you will be pleased to hear that laughter can help you to relax, which in turn positively impacts on your blood pressure. What’s more, laughter can also give your social life a boost and improve your work life too. Jokes and comments in everyday conversation are a great way to make you and your friends laugh.

Laughter can help you to relax, which in turn positively impacts on your blood pressure.

Harness the power of potassium
Potassium, a mineral found in fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, and fish, helps the body to get rid of excess salt. Your body cannot store potassium so you need to consume it every day. Choose foods that are a good source of potassium such as fruits, vegetables, milk, dried beans and peas.

Celebrate little victories
Managing your blood pressure may seem like mission impossible but fear not, you can reach your goal if you break it down into easy steps. Make sure you give yourself a pat on the back each time you achieve one.

Find an exercise partner
Like numerous others you have probably made lots of little resolutions to do more exercise and get active, but when it comes down to it, it’s all too easy to find an excuse not to go. So why not find a friend to get motivated with – it would be a great way to catch up on the news whilst getting fit and maintaining your blood pressure at the same time.

You can reach your goal if you break it down into easy steps.

Every inch counts
Many of us want to lose weight so that we can look even more fabulous than we do at the moment. Being overweight can make you 2-6 times more likely to develop elevated blood pressure than if you are at your ideal weight. If you are overweight, then lose weight sensibly by following a healthy eating plan and incorporating more exercise into your day.

Moderate your drinking
We all have our guilty pleasures, but sometimes our habits can impact badly on our blood pressure, such as drinking too much alcohol. If you drink, do it in moderation – no more than two drinks a day if you’re a man, or one drink a day if you’re a woman or older than 65. 

Go bananas for fruit and veg
Eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day can help you to maintain your blood pressure, as they are the best natural source of potassium. The key is to eat a good range of different fruits and vegetables so you can be sure that you are getting enough potassium. Look out for bananas, dried fruits, melons, avocadoes, squash, pumpkin, orange and tomato juice.

Eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day can help you to maintain your blood pressure.

Know your numbers
You know your vital statistics – height, weight, shoe size – so why not add blood pressure to the list? If your numbers are ‘120 over 80’ or lower that’s great – you have a healthy blood pressure. If they are higher, start taking control today. If you don’t know your numbers, get yourself checked out at your doctor’s surgery, your local gym, at work if you have an occupational health department, or simply by talking to your pharmacy clinic, as many now offer blood pressure testing.

Ask questions
There’s nothing wrong with taking advice from others. Now that you know your numbers, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s important for you to have all the information at your fingertips so you can work out the best way for you to maintain your blood pressure.

Ask a loved one to help you resist temptation
Managing your blood pressure is a big job. At times you may feel pressure to succumb to temptation. Well, you don’t have to be on your own – reach out to those closest to you and ask for a little help.
Those closest to you will know your pet loves and hates, and will be able to keep you on the straight and narrow from life’s little stumbles, such as reaching for the salt shaker, the cigarettes or that extra drink. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.

Go for a brisk walk when you feel tense or try some regular exercise after a busy day.

A family affair
Knowing your family’s heritage is important, and that includes your family’s medical history. Elevated blood pressure can be hereditary, so find out whether it runs in your family. Developing elevated blood pressure is not always inevitable as there are many simple diet and lifestyle steps that you can take that will help you to keep it healthy.

Take time to unwind
The daily stresses and anxieties of life can raise your blood pressure, so it’s important to think about your coping mechanisms to deal with them. There are many coping strategies that can help you to relax. Go for a brisk walk when you feel tense or try some regular exercise after a busy day; it helps increase endorphins, which will make you feel great! Also try getting plenty of sleep and try deep breathing relaxation exercises.

Make yourself a promise

Changing our diet and lifestyle isn’t easy for any of us. It can be tempting to give up when you don’t see the results as soon as you’d like. It’s easy to lose sight of abstract goals, especially if you are impatient.

Why not bring your goals to life by making a promise to yourself – write down what your goal is and how close you think you will be to it in a month’s time, in six months time, in a year. Before you know it, you will be able to hold up your piece of paper and say, “I did it!”

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