If you suffer from high blood pressure, you are not alone. Recent figures show about 80 million people nationwide, or 1 in every 3 Americans, have high blood pressure, also called hypertension. Minorities living in the U.S. have unique challenges when it comes to the condition. The Journal of the American Heart Association found that African Americans are up to two times more likely to develop high blood pressure than their white counterparts. African- Americans also tend to develop high blood pressure earlier in life. Hispanics are just as likely as white Americans to develop hypertension, but they were less likely to get it under control.
Here are four ways to manage your high blood pressure:
Reduce sodium in your diet
Small reductions can make a noticeable difference and can lower blood pressure by 5-6 mm/Hg. You should try to limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day but, for those who know they have high blood pressure, 1,500 mg per day is ideal.
TIP: Swap out high sodium processed foods with fresh ones and try seasoning with fresh herbs and spices, rather than salt.
Reduce caffeine intake
Although a cup of coffee is a morning staple for millions of Americans, it may be having a negative impact on your blood pressure. A recent study found caffeine can cause short-term spikes in blood pressure, especially for non-regular coffee drinkers.
TIP: If you already have high blood pressure, it is best to avoid moderate to high amounts of caffeine. Try decaffeinated tea or coffee as a substitute.
Eat dark chocolate, cocoa and berries in moderation
Yes, you read that right! These three tasty foods can actually help you decrease blood pressure. Dark chocolate and cocoa both contain flavonoids, which make the blood vessels dilate. This has shown short-term effects of lowering blood pressure. Berries contain polyphenols, which have shown long-term effects in decreasing hypertension.
Monitor your blood pressure at home
The best ally in your fight against high blood pressure is yourself. By monitoring your blood pressure at home with doctor-recommended measurement tools, you can make sure lifestyle changes are working and ensure your blood pressure does not reach an unhealthy level. If things become extreme, contact your doctor right away.
TIP: Ask your doctor what your ideal blood pressure should be and work with him or her on tips to check and regulate at home.
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