Lifestyle changes can help you control and prevent high blood pressure
— even if you're taking blood pressure medication
. Here's what you can do:
* Eat healthy foods. Try the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
(DASH) diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. Get plenty of potassium, which can help prevent and control high blood pressure. Eat less saturated fat
and total fat. Limit the amount of sodium in your diet. Although 2,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day is the current limit for otherwise healthy adults, limiting sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day will have a more dramatic effect on your blood pressure.
* Maintain a healthy weight. If you're overweight
, losing even 5 pounds can lower your blood pressure.
* Increase physical activity. Regular physical activity can help lower your blood pressure and keep your weight under control. Strive for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
* Limit alcohol. Even if you're healthy, alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation — up to one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men.
* Don't smoke. Tobacco injures blood vessel walls and speeds up the process of hardening of the arteries. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you quit.
* Manage stress
. Reduce stress as much as possible. Practice healthy coping techniques, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing. Getting plenty of sleep can help, too.
* Practice slow, deep breathing. Do it on your own or try device-guided paced breathing. In various clinical trials, regular use of Resperate — an over-the-counter device approved by the Food and Drug Administration to analyze breathing patterns and help guide inhalation and exhalation — significantly lowered blood pressure.