Most people who have been to the doctor’s office have consequently had a blood pressure measurement . This measurement determines the extent to which your blood presses against the walls of your blood vessels, i.e. blood pressure. Two values come from the measurement, the systolic blood pressure and the diastolic blood pressure. Normally these values are around 120 for the systolic, and around 80 for the diastolic. If these values are persistently higher than 140 and 90, we speak of high blood pressure or hypertension.

High blood pressure is dangerous and increases the risk of numerous conditions. Among other things, the risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart failure or a stroke, kidney disease and eye problems, increases with high blood pressure. It is therefore important to prevent high blood pressure.

You can’t control this entirely yourself, because age, heredity and underlying conditions such as diabetes play a role in the development of high blood pressure. Fortunately, there are measures that you can take yourself to reduce the risk of high blood pressure as lifestyle also contributes significantly to preventing high blood pressure.

What can you do yourself for high blood pressure?

The most important steps you can take yourself:

  • Adjusting your diet 

Limit sodium-containing salt intake to 5-6 grams per day. Add extra vegetables, whole grains, fruits and fish to your diet. Avoid using saturated fats. Limit your alcohol consumption to a maximum of one unit (for women), or two units (for men) per day. For example, a unit of alcohol is one 100 ml glass of wine.

  • Maintain a healthy weight

Obesity plays a role in the development and maintenance of high blood pressure. Therefore, reduce your weight to achieve a Body Mass Index (BMI) of up to 25. Another parameter you can take into account is your belly size. This should be smaller than 102 cm for men, and smaller than 88 cm for women.

  • Exercise

at least five times a week, moderately intensive for at least 30 minutes. Especially expensive activities, such as a brisk walk, a bike ride or jogging, help lower your blood pressure.

  • Stop smoking

Smoking increases the chance of developing high blood pressure. Quitting smoking is therefore an important step that you can take to prevent the onset of high blood pressure.

  • Limit stress

Stress and high blood pressure are often associated with each other. While stress is known to increase blood pressure for a short period of time, there is no evidence that stress can increase blood pressure persistently. Nonetheless, limiting stress is desirable thing.

Medical treatment

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, a doctor can treat you for this. His or her treatment will consist on the one hand of advice about your lifestyle, similar to the list above. On the other hand, the doctor can prescribe your blood pressure lowering medications. The doctor will estimate the risk you run of conditions related to high blood pressure. The height of your blood pressure, other health problems and your age play an important role in making this assessment. Based on this, the doctor will decide whether you are prescribed medications and which type of medicine suits your situation.

Serena Page

A journalism student at the University of Florida, Serena writes mostly about health and health-related subjects. On her time off, she enjoys binge-watching her favorite shows on Netflix or going on a weekend get-away.