Keeping blood pressure in the safe zone

Health Care, Medicine Comments Off

Keeping your BP below 120/80 is the ideal goal to avoid a host of afflictions, including heart disease, kidney failure and erectile dysfunction.

When lifestyle changes fail to fix the problem, doctors tend to reach for the prescription pad and add medication.

  • Reduce sodium intake. DASH diet keeps sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day (about one teaspoon of salt). Cutting it to 1,500—not easy, but doable—works even better. The DASH diet can lower your systolic pressure (upper number) by 10 points or more.
  • Monitor your pressure at home. This can give you instant feedback on the benefits of diet and exercise and give you and your doctor a more accurate picture of your blood pressure. This is valuable, because some people experience “white coat hypertension,” in which blood pressure spikes higher than normal when measured at the doctor’s office. 
  • Limit your alcohol intake. For men, the suggested limit is one to two alcoholic drinks per day, defined as 1.5 ounces (1 shot glass) of 80-proof spirits, a 5-ounce serving of wine, or a 12-ounce serving of beer. (For women it’s no more than one drink a day.)
  • Take more meds if you need to—but take the right ones.

[Healthbeat]