Black folks are more likely to have high blood pressure-induced heart disease than other races
We are more likely to have heart disease triggered by high blood pressure than other races, so it’s time to do what’s necessary to lower your blood pressure. Take these steps to get started on the right path.
Maintain a healthy weight. Or if you’re overweight or obese, lose weight. Shedding pounds will lower your blood pressure and make the medication you take to treat high blood pressure more effective.
Reduce your salt intake. Sodium maintains fluid balance, playing a crucial role in blood pressure control. Lower your sodium intake by removing the salt shaker from your table, using less (or no) sodium during food preparation and reading food labels.
Stay active. This strengthens your heart, enabling it to pump blood more efficiently. Physical activity can decrease systolic blood pressure 5 to 10 mm Hg. Regular physical activity also helps you maintain normal blood pressure levels.
Limit your caffeine intake. Lately, you’ve been hearing a lot about the benefits of caffeine. Recent research has linked your morning cup of coffee to better memory, lower cancer and diabetes risk, and even liver protection. But the caffeine in two to three cups of coffee can increase systolic blood pressure (the top number) 3 to 14 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) 4 to13 mm Hg. Though this increase is usually short lived, if you have high blood pressure, you don’t want to consume anything that will aggravate the condition.
Switch to a DASH diet. The food you eat has a direct impact on lowering blood pressure levels. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) plan is based on a high intake of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains. Research shows it works, so implementing the strategies will promote a lower blood pressure.
Eliminate stress (and its associated behaviors). Though there’s no direct link between stress and high blood pressure, the behaviors stress brings forth—overeating, not sleeping, drinking too much, smoking—do affect blood pressure. So drink alcohol in moderation (no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women). And the nicotine in cigarettes narrows blood vessels, making your heart work harder and raising your blood pressure. There is no “moderate level” of smoking; quit.
We know changing habits isn’t easy. Surround yourself with a support system to help you stick with your better blood pressure changes. This system could include family and friends, your state’s Quit Line to stop smoking or a weight-loss support group to help you shed extra pounds.
And work with your physician to make sure your treatment plan is appropriate for you. If you have been taking blood pressure medication for a while, discuss your treatment plan with him to determine if any adjustments need to be made for the best results.