How To Control High Blood Pressure With An Easy 10-Day Plan For Success!

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How to control high blood pressure with an easy 10-day plan. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a leading cause of heart disease, strokes, and kidney disease in the United States. About half of the adults in the US have high blood pressure, yet most do not have it under control. I am a board-certified nephrologist, which means I'm an MD who specializes in kidney disease and hypertension, so taking care of high blood pressure is what I do every day. Are you interested in learning how to control your high blood pressure? Then let's get started.

high blood pressure control

I'm Dr. Frita and I'm a board-certified kidney and high blood pressure specialist, day in and day out, I take care of patients with hypertension. I understand that controlling high blood pressure can be frustrating. Sometimes you can really try your best, and those numbers just keep fluctuating. They go up, they go down, and you get tired of it. If you're reading this and you're someone who's really struggled with your blood pressure numbers, you may have come to the conclusion that, "Hey, having high blood pressure runs in my family, it's just normal for me." Well, guess what? It's not. Even if you don't have symptoms from your hypertension, the high blood pressure is still doing damage to your blood vessels. It's damaging the vessels in your brain, the vessels in your heart, and definitely the vessels in your kidneys. So please don't give up on controlling your high blood pressure. Today, I'm going to give you a plan.

How To Control High Blood Pressure with A 10-Day Plan! Day 1: Monitor and Record Blood Pressure Numbers

On day one, you want to learn how to monitor and record your blood pressure properly, that's key. If you don't know what your blood pressure actually is, how are you going to control it? And so the first thing you want to do is make sure that the blood pressure cuff is the proper size.

How To Measure Blood Pressure Cuff Size

The American Heart Association has an 80-40 rule, which is actually pretty good. If you think about the bladder of the blood pressure cuff, that's the part that wraps around your arm. You want to make sure that the width of the blood pressure cuff bladder is approximately 40% of the size of the circumference of your arm. To determine the appropriate size of the blood pressure cuff, you can use a tape measure or a string. Simply wrap it around your mid-upper arm and take note of the measurement. Ideally, the width of the cuff should be around 40% of this measurement, or slightly less than half.

blood-pressure-cuff-measurement

As far as the length of the blood pressure cuff, you want to make sure that the length is about 80% of the length of the circumference of your arm. If your blood pressure cuff is too small, that will give you a falsely elevated blood pressure. So if you're one of these people who has big arms and you are constantly getting very high blood pressure readings, make sure that the blood pressure cuff is large enough. You may need an adult large cuff, or you may even need a thigh cuff if you have really big and buff arms.

And if you are a very thin person and you're getting low blood pressure readings, it may be a false low number if the blood pressure cuff is too big.  Consult with your physician or even go to your local fire department and make sure that your blood pressure cuff is the right size.

how to control high blood pressure

How To Measure Blood Pressure Manually At Home

When you measure your blood pressure manually at home, you want to make sure that you are relaxed and that you have an empty bladder. So sit, and do some deep breathing, and try to relax. Uncross your legs and feet. Your feet should be nice and flat on the ground, and your arms should be at the level of your heart. Now you are ready to properly measure your blood pressure. And you may have a wrist cuff, that's okay. Just make sure that you calibrate it with your local fire department or with your physician's office to make sure you're getting accurate blood pressure readings.

What Is Normal Blood Pressure?

Normal blood pressure is when that top number, or the systolic number, is less than 120, and the bottom number, the diastolic number, is less than 80. These numbers were updated in 2017.

Hypertension Stage 1

You have hypertension stage 1 if that top number or systolic number is between 130 and 139, and if that bottom number, or diastolic number, is between 80 and 89.

Hypertension Stage 2

You have stage 2 hypertension if that top number is over 140 and the bottom number is over 90.

stages of hypertension and high blood pressure 01

What Is Blood Pressure?

Now let's talk about what blood pressure actually means. Your blood pressure is the force that your blood exerts on your blood vessels. So the systolic, or the top number, is the pressure when the heart is squeezing or contracting. It's the pressure on your blood vessels. That diastolic number is the pressure in those vessels when the heart is relaxed.

So if you have a blood pressure of greater than 130 over 80, then you have hypertension, and you definitely need to consult with your doctor. One thing that will help is keeping a daily journal and figuring out what time of day your blood pressure may be higher because, in some people, the blood pressure will fluctuate. So it's very important to write down those blood pressure numbers and your heart rate numbers because that will help to guide your physician on how to treat your blood pressure.

 

Days 2-3: Adopt a Heart-Healthy Diet

What you put into your body is key. Food can be medicine, food can also be kryptonite. And so you want to really take the time, over days two and three, to learn which foods are best for your blood pressure. You want to incorporate fruits, and vegetables, like cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts. You also want to incorporate beets because they have nitrates, which are converted to nitric oxide in your body, and that's a natural way to dilate your blood vessels. You also want to incorporate garlic. Garlic has a substance called allicin, which helps to relax the blood vessels and help the blood pressure to decrease.

blood pressure control with heart healthy diet

Learn which foods to avoid. You want to avoid high-sodium foods, you want to avoid prepackaged foods, and you definitely want to avoid added sugar. You are in luck because I have created a wonderful library of videos that will help you learn which foods you should have.

I have a video on nine power vegetables that are good for your blood pressure, and on low-sodium foods that are good for your blood pressure. I also have videos on what to avoid, like the 10 worst foods to eat if you have diabetes. Check out these videos after you finish reading this article. Once again, be sure to consult with your physician and your registered dietician before making any major changes to your diet.

 

Days 4-5: Commit To Regular Physical Activity

Yes, you definitely want to exercise because that helps to lower your blood pressure. When you exercise, that helps to release endorphins. That also helps you to maintain a healthy weight. We know that when you are someone who has a healthier weight, and less abdominal fat, you tend to have better blood pressure. There are different ways you can commit to regular exercise.

Ways You Can Commit To Regular Exercise

Gym Membership

Yes, you can have a gym membership, and you can be intense while committing to attending most days of the week. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that most adults exercise for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. That's about 30 minutes of exercise for five days of the week.

Walking or Running

You have the flexibility to choose between walking or running to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. You can start with a brisk walk for 30 minutes, three times a week, and gradually increase the intensity and duration as you get used to it. Running is also an excellent option, especially if you prefer high-intensity workouts.

exercise for controlling high blood pressure

Keep Your Body Moving At Work

Take the stairs instead of taking the elevator. On your lunch break, have a nice light lunch, and then get up and walk around in the parking lot, or get a lunch buddy and walk around the building. Keep your body moving.

Yoga and Meditation

You can also do yoga, as well as meditation because that usually incorporates slow, deep breathing. And when you have slow, deep breathing, that helps the heart to slow down and helps the blood vessels to dilate. And meditating is a great way to clear your mind, decrease stress, and decrease blood pressure.

HIIT Training

HIIT training is something that's wonderful also. Once you step into that realm, you engage in a combination of weightlifting, calisthenics, and balancing exercises. It's a great fusion that ensures a well-rounded workout experience.

Many things, will help you as far as exercise. Make sure you consult with your physician.  If you have a gym membership or access to a personal trainer, find out which exercises are healthy for you and can help you reduce your blood pressure. Beyond just directly benefiting your blood pressure, exercise can also help with your mental health. So be sure to check out my video on how exercise can help with mental health after you finish reading this article.

Day 6: Stress Reduction Techniques

Stress is big, everyone has it. It's ubiquitous, it's everywhere. And when you have stress, that increases those stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones cause your blood vessels to tighten or constrict. And guess what, it sends your blood pressure up. So if you're someone who is stressed several times throughout the day whether it be in traffic, fussing at your kids, or dealing with people at work.  If these things stress you out, then you are potentially raising your blood pressure several times during the day. And so you definitely want to figure out how to incorporate stress-reducing techniques. Here are a few.

 

high blood pressure control with meditation

 

Meditation:

You want to sit, and meditate, and clear your mind. Now, meditation does not just mean you sit in a corner and you're quiet while you think about what you had for breakfast, or you go through your things-to-do list. No, you have to have a free mind, a calm mind. So you want to learn some meditation techniques, and that can help to reduce your stress.

Control What You Can Control:

If you're a big worrier, you worry about what's going on in this country or that country over there. You worry about what's happening with your buddy who had a bad day yesterday morning. You see someone who crosses the street, they look like their leg hurts, and you worry about them. If you're worrying about everything all the time, that's going to increase your stress. I want you to be compassionate, I do, but I also want you to control what you can control, and I don't want you to be a worrier, where your stress is causing high blood pressure. So figure out how to control what you can control, and decrease stress that way.

Have A Plan:

Also, you want to make sure that you have a plan. If you write things down in a journal or you come up with a daily plan, and you really say, "Okay, I have this long things-to-do list, but I'm gonna put the top three most important things on the top of the list," you really worry about getting those things done. And for the things you don't get done, hey, tomorrow's coming, and try not to be so hard on yourself.

Remove Toxic People From Your Daily Life:

Friends, yeah, especially work friends, make sure you remove toxic people from your daily life. I don't mean get rid of them, like, they're going leave the face of the earth. But you want to make sure you're very cognizant of how much you interact with them or how much you let the words that they say control you. If someone is not for you, even if they seem like they're for you, if they're not for you, they can be strategizing to pull you down at work. I'm not trying to make you paranoid, but I want you to really pay attention and weigh your relationships, even family relationships.

If you have toxic people in your life and you really feel like they're bringing you down, do some assessments and get rid of these people. And make sure you seek counseling. Because, hey, you want to make sure the problem is not you. Either way, you want to make sure that your relationships with friends and family are nourishing relationships that are going to decrease your stress and help you to have better blood pressure.

dodgeball for stress relief

Engage In Stress-Reducing Activities:

Do you know why a lot of little kids don't have stress? Because they play. Well, guess what? When you're an adult, you can play as well. Find out if there are any work sports teams you can join. Or, if you're a member of a local gym, maybe there are some different sports activities available to you such as dodgeball, or flag football. Go out and play. Go with friends, enjoy healthy foods, enjoy laughing, enjoy dancing. Figure out those things that you love, have fun, and play!

Stress-reducing techniques can also help you to lower your blood pressure. Be sure you watch my video on seven ways to reduce stress in the workplace after you finish reading this article.

monitor sodium intake

Days 7-8: Monitor Sodium Intake

Oh my goodness, having a high-salt diet is a no-no if you want to control your high blood pressure. Now, you may be listening to me and thinking, "Oh, I'm good, I don't pick up the salt shaker, I do sea salt or pink Himalayan salt." Well, guess what, they still have sodium. So I want you to become a label watcher. According to the American Heart Association, most adults should be eating less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. Yes, go look at the labels. You can get up to that 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day very, very quickly.

In order to avoid having high sodium, you want to avoid prepackaged foods. Definitely, you want to avoid fried foods and avoid canned foods as much as you can. But even some of the everyday things that we eat, like ketchup, have salt in them. Or, if you think you're being healthy by eating vegetables, like maybe you have a bowl of canned corn, take a look. It's loaded with salt as well. The key is to figure out ways to flavor your food without adding a lot of salt. Use lemon zest, garlic, and peppers. And in order to control your blood pressure, make sure you minimize the amount of sodium you take in.

 

Day 9: Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

I'm about to lose all my friends here but hear me out. Day nine, you want to limit your alcohol and caffeine intake.

Alcohol:

Now, we know that alcohol is everywhere. It's just a part of our society. If you go to a wedding, they're drinking alcohol. If you go to a birthday party, alcohol. If you're watching a program on television, they might say, "Hey, what are you drinking?" We see alcohol everywhere.

And, you know, perhaps you can have alcohol in moderation, but when you have excess alcohol, it can increase and worsen your blood pressure. The CDC recommends that the average woman have no more than one drink a day. The average man, no more than two drinks a day.

So what is a drink? I'm not talking about a 16-ounce glass full of dark liquor. No, that is not a drink. I don't care if it's one glass. A drink is considered 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, something like whiskey, vodka, or something that's strong. It is advisable to consult with your physician, as some individuals may need to completely abstain from drinking alcohol.

alcohol and caffeine

Caffeine:

Caffeine, which is actually a drug, is the most commonly used drug worldwide. Now, studies show us that if you're having less than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, then you probably are not having detrimental effects. But, truth be told, if you have hypertension and you drink a lot of caffeine, it actually can, in some cases, increase your blood pressure. Consult with your physician.

And if you find that you're someone who does need to cut alcohol all the way out, or caffeine all the way out, this is not the end of the world. There are strategies. Now, if you're someone who actually has an issue with having excess alcohol, make sure you consult with your physician and consult with your mental healthcare provider.

And if you simply must have that kind of alcohol feeling, there are mocktails you can try. And there are different restaurants that are actually non-alcoholic restaurants. As far as caffeine, of course, you can have decaffeinated drinks, like decaffeinated tea, decaffeinated sodas, and decaffeinated coffee. Mind you that, even in a lot of these decaffeinated beverages, there is some caffeine, but certainly, it will be less milligrams than for fully-caffeinated beverages. I can't stress it enough to please consult with your physician about your alcohol and caffeine intake.

 

Day 10: Create a Long-Term Plan For Lower Blood Pressure

Day 10, create a long-term goal on how to control high blood pressure. This is a marathon, it is not a quick sprint. You're going to have good days and down days. You are going have weeks where you did really, really great, and you are going have weeks where you could've done better. The key is not to beat yourself up. Celebrate the good days. Celebrate days when you have really a healthy diet when you do your exercise, and when you do your meditation techniques.

When you wake up in the morning, celebrate yourself! Go over all of the good things that you've done towards your journey to lower blood pressure. Hey, for that matter, just go over the good things about you, that help to decrease stress. Don't dwell on the negatives. That's really key. Also, make sure, again, that you consult with your physician. We have all of these different lifestyle-management techniques for blood pressure, but in some cases, you may need medications. You want to talk to your physician about the risks versus the benefits of medication, and you want to make sure that you and your physician are on the same page.

blood pressure log book

If, while doing these lifestyle-management changes, your blood pressure actually starts to get lower, you want to make sure that you keep your physician up to speed, so that they can pull away medications as needed. It's integrative, not one or the other. We do the lifestyle adjustments, but you may be in a situation where you need medication as well, and that's okay.

You also want to set realistic goals. If you've had blood pressure that has been 180 over 110, and your body has adjusted to that high blood pressure, you're not going to drop your blood pressure right away, not even necessarily in 10 days. It may not be perfect, but we want to start seeing incremental lowerings of the blood pressure. Again, work with your physician to find out which blood pressure goals are realistic for you.

So there you have it. I want you to have a positive attitude, jump on in, and collaborate with your physician, and your healthcare provider, and I want you to implement this 10-day plan to lower your blood pressure. Tell me which part of this plan resonated most with you. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. If you found this article to be helpful and informative, be sure to share it with the people you care about.

Dr. Frita - Frita McRae Fisher, M.D.
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