Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, affects many Canadians; seniors are particularly at risk for the condition. When blood pressure is consistently too high for a long period of time, it can put you at risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other perilous medical conditions. Should you experience hypertension, it’s likely your doctor will prescribe medications to help control your blood pressure; fortunately, there are also a number of lifestyle changes you can make to bring your blood pressure down.

Mind What You Eat

What we put into our bodies has a dramatic influence on how it functions; as a society, we’re learning this lesson through the spike of type II diabetes brought on by obesity. There’s no surprise, then, that hypertension can be regulated by dietary changes. The most important of these might be a reduction of sodium in your diet; keeping your sodium intake at or under 1500 mg/day is likely to do the trick. There are a few tricks to managing your sodium intake, the biggest of which is to pay attention to the nutritional facts about any foods you eat and add up the sodium you’re consuming. It’s a good idea to avoid processed and pre-packaged foods, which often contain added sodium. Try not to add salt to any meals you’re eating.

You’ll also want to lose weight if you’re overweight. That means eating a healthy diet, avoiding items that are high in cholesterol and fat. Leafy greens, fruits and whole grains are in order here. Meal planning and preparation will be key to your lifestyle change, so be sure to calculate the nutritional value of the meals you’re preparing; there’s a variety of phone apps that can help you out!

Mind Your Activities

A hedonistic lifestyle might be enjoyable, but it’s not conducive to low blood pressure. That means that you should avoid that Cuban cigar; smoking is bad for you for a million different reasons, and hypertension is just one of the reasons you should stop. You might like having a coffee with Bailey’s around the holidays; that’s okay, but remember that caffeine and alcohol can also increase your blood pressure.

If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you should try to get active; even taking a walk every day or doing some light aerobics or yoga can help you lower your blood pressure and increase your flexibility. Getting at least 150 minutes of exercise a week can really improve your overall quality of life.

One of the biggest contributors to hypertension is stress; if you’re worried all the time, or you feel incapable of doing the things you need to do, your blood pressure will go up. When you have trouble completing your daily activities, like grocery shopping or washing yourself, the feeling of missing agency can aggravate your hypertension. Don’t hesitate to ask for help; highly specialized home care professionals can help you with every aspect of your lifestyle changes to deal with hypertension.