I read an article in October of 2020 from the American Heart Association. I hate talking about blood pressure, and it seems that many people share my feelings. The AHA suggested that almost half of American adults have high blood pressure and about 75% don’t have it under control. The reality is that you can get it under control – and small changes will make a BIG difference.
Some of the changes you can begin right now are:
- Check your blood pressure regularly – not just at your annual physical. 120/80 or below is considered normal. Even a reading at 130/80 or above should give pause for a call to your physician. Don’t panic. Being informed and monitoring are key to a healthy heart.
- Take your blood pressure medication as prescribed. Don’t decide you feel okay and skip a day – remember high blood pressure has the nickname the “silent killer”.
- Read labels on the over-the-counter (OTC) medicines you take. Things like pain relievers (ibuprofen and naproxen) can raise blood pressure. Clear those OTC meds with your doctor. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call.
- Move Your Body. Exercise is key to getting weight off and getting healthier all the way around. The heart working a little harder is a good thing. It makes the lungs increase their capacity, and it will help in ways you never believed were possible.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you huff and puff – you might need to examine your eating. Making changes in diet can be as easy as eating only one serving, and using a smaller plate. We have 12” diameter dinner plates but eat our meals from a 10” plate. You will be amazed at what a difference it can make.
- The food you eat. Vegetables, whole grains, fruits, lean meats. I hesitate to say low-fat dairy because so often those products have chemicals and added sodium to make the cheese/yogurt taste good. If you eat those – don’t get carried away.
- Reduce Sodium/salt. Ideally, stay under 1,500 mg/day but try to stay around 1,000. Read labels. Do your research and discover what is in your food.
- Limit alcohol. In some cases, alcohol might not be advisable because it diminishes the efficacy of the medication you’re taking. A pharmacist can always answer your questions about alcohol and your medication combinations. I would be proactive and ask the doctor if you could have a drink once a day (or once in a while). See if he is open for a glass of red wine in the evenings. Hey, you gotta live!
- No Smoking. Tobacco products and vaping can raise blood pressure – not to mention what they’re doing to your lungs. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
If you’re looking for motivation I’d like to suggest one thing. Look around at your family, and friends. Then think about how much you admire and love them. I can promise you they feel the same about you. Grab hold of life and enjoy it as long as you can.
I worked with a client once who’d announce every morning before our workout that he was great because he woke up on the right side of the grass. I hope you have many more healthy days on the right side of the grass too!
Karen Sullivan is a personal trainer and fitness instructor at the Rec-Plex. She has 30 years in the fitness industry and works with kids as young as 2 and adults up to 90.
To schedule a consultation with Karen Sullivan, contact Kelly Pettis at email@example.com