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Staying Healthy

Hypertension / High Blood Pressure

Doctor checking patient's blood pressure

Steps to lower high blood pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure is often called the silent killer because there are no warning signs or symptoms. Once you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you need to take steps to control it and stay healthy. If you choose not to treat your high blood pressure, it can lead to a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney failure. Follow these steps:

Step One: Follow your provider's treatment plan

You may need to:

  • Change your diet
  • Lose weight
  • Exercise
  • Stop smoking
  • Limit your use of alcohol
  • Lower your stress
  • Take medicine to help control your blood pressure
  • Check your blood pressure to see if you are keeping it under control

Step Two: Change your diet

  • Lower the amount of salt in your diet
  • Change the way you eat to help you lose weight
  • Learn to read food labels
  • Ask your provider about DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)

Step Three: Be Active!

Talk with your provider before you begin any exercise plan. The best kinds of exercise are:

  • Brisk walking
  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Jumping rope

These exercises help your heart and lungs. They help by increasing your heart rate and oxygen use. Try to do 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week.

Step Four: Quit smoking

One of the best things you can do for your heart is to stop smoking. If you have high blood pressure and smoke, your risks for heart disease and lung disease are doubled. Your risk for stroke also increases.

Step Five: Take your medicine

If you find that diet changes and exercise are not enough to lower your blood pressure, you may need to take medicine. Once you start your medicine, you must take it every day. This will help to keep your blood pressure lower.

Ask your provider:

    • How to check your blood pressure and keep a record
    • About any side effects of the medicine
    • About using over-the-counter medicines
    • How to lower your stress

Once you have lowered your blood pressure, stay with your treatment plan:

    • Keep all appointments with your provider
    • Keep taking your medicine. You may need to try different medicines to get your blood pressure under control and keep it there
    • Check your blood pressure often
    • Get your cholesterol checked at least yearly

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