If you want to avoid heart disease, you need to learn how to take care of your heart and blood pressure. Blood pressure is essentially a measure of how hard your heart has to work in order to pump blood throughout your body. Unfortunately, many people don’t take care of their heart or have their blood pressure checked until it is too late. Check out ways these ways to take care of your heart and blood pressure.
To learn how to take care of your heart and blood pressure, you will need:
- A doctor's visit to check your heart and blood pressure
- Closely monitor your Blood Pressure. Normal blood pressure is anything below 120/80. However, many external factors can affect your blood pressure (such as stress). Having your blood pressure checked only one time is probably not an accurate depiction of your health. Additionally, if your blood pressure is “high” and you lower it to 135/80 (for example) that would be progress even though it would still be considered "high."
- Consider medication. If your blood pressure is dangerously high, your Doctor might prescribe medication to help lower it. Popular blood pressure medications include diuretics or beta-blockers. Diuretics remove excess sodium from your body through the kidneys (no this does not mean that you get to eat more sodium). Beta-blockers block certain nerve signals and cause the heart to beat slower.
Exercise at least three times a week. Exercise is one of the best ways you can care for your heart and blood pressure. Exercise lowers your heart rate, so it won't have to work as hard when you are not exercising. Exercise also increases immune system function, which can help care for your heart.
- Evaluate your diet. Diet is another great way you can care for your heart and blood pressure. Stop eating greasy, fatty foods that will cause plaque build up along your heart's arterial walls. Basically, if something tastes good, it is probably bad for your heart. If it is in a package, it is probably bad for your heart. If you already have high blood pressure or heart problems, you should stay away from foods high in sodium like, most processed snack foods. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Ideally a person should consume around 1,500 milligrams, but under 2,400 is a good place to start. Remember that food doesn’t have to taste salty to contain sodium. Most desserts and anything that is processed or packaged probably has sodium.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight is bad for your heart because the extra weight causes your heart to have to work harder. Also, people who are overweight and accumulate fat around their midsection are at greater risk for a heart attack and heart disease. Losing just a small amount of weight (if you need to) can lower your blood pressure and decrease your risk for heart disease. Losing weight can also lower your risk for other health problems like diabetes. If you don’t know if you are overweight, check with your doctor.