Control blood pressure with healthy lifestyle changes

Managing high blood pressure is a multifaceted approach involving a delicate balance of lifestyle modifications and medical interventions. UChicago Medicine AdventHealth is here to offer hope that positive changes in diet, physical activity, stress management and other lifestyle changes can significantly contribute to healthy blood pressure control.

Adopting a heart-healthy diet is essential for managing high blood pressure. Lifestyle choices make a difference not only to your blood pressure, but in your overall health. Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products; reduce your intake of saturated fats. Limit sodium and choose low-sodium alternatives. Incorporating potassium-rich foods such as bananas, spinach, sweet potatoes and avocados is great for your heart and blood pressure.

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for blood pressure control. Eat a balanced diet that aligns with your caloric needs to achieve and maintain a healthy weight for your body. You can connect with a health care professional or registered dietitian for personalized guidance. Be mindful of portion sizes and avoid overeating. You can try tricks such as using smaller plates, measuring food portions and listening to your body's hunger and fullness cues to know when enough is enough.

In addition to a healthy diet, regular physical activity plays a significant role in managing high blood pressure. And you can start moving right now. Set down your laptop or phone and take a brisk walk around the block or grab your kids and play a game of tag. Remember that staying active and adding movement to your day is great for your blood pressure, your heart and your longevity.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. Activities such as brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming or dancing can help lower blood pressure. Include strength training exercises two or more days per week with simple exercises you can do at home. Focus on major muscle groups, using resistance bands, weights or bodyweight exercises.

Managing stress is also vital for protecting your heart and maintaining optimal blood pressure. Practice mindfulness meditation techniques to promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. Simply put, mindfulness meditation is being aware of your surroundings and what is going on inside you. You can count your breaths as you wash dishes or your steps during your walk. You'll find yourself more grounded and peaceful with consistent practice. Find quiet moments throughout the day to focus on deep breathing and present-moment awareness.

Incorporate more rest in your day. Rest involves your whole being, not just your body. And sleep is not the same as rest, but an element of quality rest. Try yoga, tai chi or gentle stretching. Rest restores health, enhances your performance and helps achieve a sense of wellness.

If you have concerns about high blood pressure or need expert guidance for its management, our experienced health care professionals offer comprehensive care and compassionate support for heart health.

- Mayur Patel, MD, is a cardiovascular disease physician with UChicago Medicine AdventHealth Medical Group Heart & Vascular in Hinsdale.