Winter is a time when our blood pressure can take a bit of a hit.  We tend not to be as active in the cold, we reach for more comfort food, which is often higher in sodium and fat and with the on-going effects of Covid-19, and our stress level is high.  If you are struggling with high blood pressure, maybe this is a good time to remember what you can do to help control it.  Here are some tips that can help reduce high blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Lose some extra pounds:

Blood pressure will increase with weight gain. Losing weight is one of the most effective things you can do to manage blood pressure.  Even a small amount of weight loss can help.

Exercise regularly:

Doing 150 minutes of activity each week can lower your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure. Consistency is key as once you stop being active your blood pressure will increase again.

Eat a healthy diet:

Eating a healthy diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy can help lower your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.  This is the foundation of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which can help keep you healthier.

Reduce sodium in your diet:

Even a small reduction of sodium in your diet can improve your blood pressure by as much as 5 to 6 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.  Sodium intake should be limited to 2300 mg however, most adults should be striving for less than 1500mg.  To do this eat fewer processed foods, do not add salt to your meals, and read the food labels to understand the sodium content of your food.

Limit alcohol:

Drinking one drink a day for women and two for men can help lower blood pressure.  However, if you drink too much that benefit is lost and it can raise blood pressure and can reduce the effectiveness of medication.

Quit smoking:

Smoking increases your blood pressure for many minutes after each cigarette.  Once you stop smoking, your blood pressure will return to normal until the next cigarette.  Quitting smoking for good will can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve overall health.

Ease up on caffeine:

Drinking coffee on a regular basis has little to no effect on your heart rate.  However, for those who rarely consume caffeine, it can increase your blood pressure up to 10mm Hg.

Reduce stress:

Chronic stress may add to high blood pressure.  Occasional stress can lead to unhealthy eating, drinking alcohol or smoking, which have direct impacts on high blood pressure.  Consider finding ways of eliminating or reducing stress in your life.