9 Ways to Control Hypertension

1. Exercise. Even moderate exercise of 20 minutes a day improves circulation, lessens stress and helps reduce weight. Aim for 30 to 40 minutes per day; brisk walking is sufficient.

2. Lose weight. Being overweight strains your heart. Bring your weight under control by replacing junk food with fruit and vegetables, and getting moderate exercise.

3. Relieve stress. Methods ranging from deep breathing to transcendental meditation have been shown to reduce blood pressure.

4. Boost potassium. Increasing your intake of potassium-rich foods such as prune juice, raisins, milk and uncooked fruit and vegetables may help lower blood pressure, studies show.

5. Put away the salt shaker. Although science suggests some individuals are more “salt sensitive” than others—and some may not benefit from dietary salt restrictions—reducing salt is generally advised by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and other organizations, for anyone with hypertension.

6. Limit alcohol. Drinking can make blood pressure harder to control, and can also interfere with medication. Keep it to one drink a day, two at most.

7. Take your medications. Skipping blood pressure pills—tempting to do, since hypertension is usually asymptomatic—makes the condition harder to control.

8. Improve your diet. Fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods can lower blood pressure. Avoid processed food—75 percent of Americans’ sodium intake is from processed food, not the salt shaker. Make it yourself. Use herbs for flavor, not salt.

9. Don’t smoke. We list it last, but if you do smoke, this should be your first step.

Hypertension Resources