Managing my blood pressure
By building a heart-healthy lifestyle, you'll manage blood pressure more easily.
Why is it important to treat high blood pressure?
Did you know high blood pressure affects nearly half of all Americans? When left untreated, it can cause serious problems. High blood pressure (or hypertension) makes the heart work too hard to pump blood around your body. That can increase your risk of other health problems such as heart failure, heart attack or stroke. It can also cause kidney failure and vision issues.
By building a heart-healthy lifestyle, you'll manage blood pressure more easily. Your whole body will thank you.
How to lower my blood pressure
Here's your action plan. Start with these six tips to build a heart-healthy lifestyle. Each one will help you work toward a lower blood pressure, improving – and possibly lengthening – your life.
Six tips to help manage blood pressure
- Have your blood pressure checked at each doctor's visit.
- Take your medicine as prescribed.
- Enjoy a heart-healthy diet that's rich in fresh vegetables and fruit, but low in salt and cholesterol.
- Find and make recipes that have low sodium.
- Get at least 30 minutes of activity every day.
- Make your life tobacco free.
Could I have high blood pressure without knowing it?
Yes. Many people have high blood pressure, and they don't even know it. High blood pressure is troubling because there are rarely warning signs or symptoms. It's important to get your blood pressure checked regularly and to ask your doctor about managing it.
What to ask a doctor about blood pressure
- What will happen if I don't control my blood pressure?
- How will high blood pressure affect my quality of life?
- What's my ideal blood pressure?
- Can I check my blood pressure at home?
- What's a healthy weight for me?
- Is there over-the-counter medicine I should avoid?
- Is it OK to drink alcohol?
- How active should I be?
How to manage blood pressure at home
Managing blood pressure at home is about healthy living. Follow the tips above under "Six tips to help lower blood pressure" to keep your heart healthy and strong.
Track your progress toward a lower blood pressure. Ask your doctor for your blood pressure now and what number you should be trying to reach. Then, watch as the changes you're making to food, exercise, smoking and medicine help that number fall.
Can I lower my blood pressure naturally?
Being diagnosed with high blood pressure means managing blood pressure throughout your life. You’ll need to make long-term changes to keep your blood pressure down. That usually means permanent changes to your diet and exercise habits.
If you’re trying to lower blood pressure naturally, start with the same "Six tips to help lower blood pressure" listed above. For the step "take your medicine as prescribed," here's what to do.
- Talk with your doctor about whether it's safe to try lowering your blood pressure without medicine.
- Tell your doctor why you want to lower your blood pressure naturally and share your action plan.
- You can help lower blood pressure by making lifestyle changes. However, if those changes don't work well enough, you may still need to take medicine. It's important to have a healthy heart. So be open to compromise if things don't work out exactly the way you had planned.
Diabetes and hypertension
When you have diabetes, managing high blood pressure (hypertension) is extra important. High blood pressure can make diabetes symptoms more serious as since your heart works too hard. If you have diabetes, aim for blood pressure less than 140/90 mmHg. (Learn how to read blood pressure numbers.)
You and your doctor should set a goal for getting closer to 140/90 mmHg. To start the conversation, bring this health tracker for diabetes to your next visit. A lot of what you'll do to lower blood pressure is the same as the "Six tips to help lower blood pressure" above. Have your blood pressure checked at each doctor's visit. Take medicine as prescribed. Eliminate tobacco. Exercise. Eat well.
Want to learn more about diabetes and hypertension? View other resources for managing your diabetes.
Resources about blood pressure
- American Heart Association
- What are the numbers for high blood pressure, what do they mean and how can you lower them?
- Learn blood pressure basics in the Health Library