Get High Blood Pressure Under Control

Learn how to reduce the risk factors tied to high blood pressure.

If you currently have normal blood pressure but are concerned about developing hypertension based on your risk factors, several strategies can help you stay healthy. These strategies are also useful for getting your blood pressure levels under control if your doctor has diagnosed you with prehypertension.

Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight can raise your blood pressure, so you’ll want to make sure you keep off any extra pounds. To make sure you’re at a healthy weight, calculate your BMI.

Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet not only helps to keep weight off, it also provides you with nutrients such as potassium and magnesium and fiber, which have been shown to help regulate blood pressure.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is an eating plan developed specifically for lowering blood pressure. It has many similarities to the Weight Watchers food plan, in that it emphasizes eating more fruits and vegetables, whole-grain and high-fiber foods, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry and other lean sources of protein.

Limit sodium intake
The DASH diet is a low-sodium eating plan. You can also find low-sodium options and tips for cutting back on salt with Weight Watchers.

DASH and current USDA Dietary Guidelines suggest consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. However, studies have found that following DASH and limiting sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day is more effective at lowering blood pressure. Additionally, the updated 2010 Dietary Guidelines may soon suggest limiting levels to 1,500 mg daily based on the latest clinical research.

Drink in moderation
Because drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can increase blood pressure, consumption should be limited to no more than one drink a day in women and two drinks a day in men.

Be physically active
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise each week, or 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week — the same recommendation as the Good Health Guideline for physical activity that is provided as part of the Weight Watchers program. Physical activity can also take place in 10-minute increments throughout the week. Be sure to incorporate muscle strengthening two days a week as well as flexibility and stretching exercises into your routine.

Don’t smoke
While smoking has not been proven to cause hypertension, the chemicals in cigarettes can temporarily elevate your blood pressure. Moreover, smoking injures blood vessel walls and is linked to multiple health problems.

Reduce stress
While stress management techniques may not impact your blood pressure, they might help you prevent over-eating, which could lead to weight gain and subsequent hypertension, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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