They think that high blood pressure is something you can’t identify until you’re in the doctor’s office waiting for the cuff to release.
But that is a false and quite frankly dangerous misunderstanding of how high blood pressure works.
You Don’t Need a Doctor’s Office
Luckily, the warning signs of high blood pressure are easy to recognize when you’re at home:
- Poor circulation or blood flow
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Difficulty breathing
- Pounding in the ears and neck
- Trouble seeing, blurry vision
- Bloody urine
If any or all of these sound familiar, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
He’ll be able to confirm that they are indeed high blood pressure warnings and not indicative of another, even more serious condition.
How to Manage Blood Pressure at Home
You don’t have to wait until you experience high blood pressure warnings to start to manage your blood pressure! As with any health condition, the best offense is a good defense.
The best news is that if you’re looking to keep your numbers healthy, or if you’ve started to see an upward climb in your blood pressure, these steps may help.
1. Exercise every day. While 150 minutes of exercise is fine for overall health, when you’re trying to counteract high blood pressure warnings, some sources say more is even better. Go ahead and aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity every day until your numbers are where you want them. Walking, swimming, and dancing are all good exercises for healthy blood pressure.
2. Reduce sodium intake. Everyone should get less than 2300 mg/day of sodium, so start by making sure you’re in that range. If you’re hitting that mark and find high blood pressure warnings aren’t clearing up, try to drop down to 1500/mg day. The easiest way to accomplish this is to cut way back on the heavily processed foods you eat. But also check your labels, because sodium can lurk in lightly processed, “healthy” foods, as well. Finally, experiment with seasonings other than salt to enhance the flavor of your foods. Once you wean yourself off of table salt, herbs and spices taste even better.
3. Watch your caffeine intake. Some people who drink a lot of coffee never have high blood pressure warnings and their numbers stay great. Others are more sensitive to caffeine’s effects. If you find caffeine causes your blood pressure to go places you don’t want it to, find a different way to start your day. Green tea is often easier for people managing their blood pressure, because it has enough caffeine that they don’t have to go cold turkey, but not enough to negatively impact blood pressure.
4. Reduce stress. Stress contributes to blood pressure problems in two different ways. First, stress itself can cause high blood pressure warnings. But then many people respond to stress in unhealthy ways – smoking, drinking, and overeating – that are bad when you’re trying to manage your blood pressure, too. Find ways to relax, and healthy ways to manage the stress. Your doctor will be happier about your numbers.
High blood pressure warnings can be scary when they’re happening to you. We understand. But you don’t have to wait around for bad news.
Talk to your doctor before you feel them. Start taking these steps now. And aim for 120 today.