Our Advice for High Blood Pressure
To understand what your blood pressure result means for you, it important to understand that blood pressure is one of a number of factors which affect your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Your blood pressure should always be viewed in combination with your other risk factors.
Other important risk factors include:
- Being overweight
- Raised cholesterol
- Family history of heart disease
How your doctor will choose to manage your high blood pressure will depend on how high your blood pressure is, as well as what other risk factors you may have. Regardless of whether the doctor prescribes medication for you or not, there are a number of important lifestyle changes you can make:
If you smoke, stop smoking:
Patients with high blood pressure who smoke are 3-4 times more likely to have a heart attack compared to non-smokers. You can get advice on quitting from your Pharmacist, family doctor, local HSE office or you can phone the National Smokers Quitline at 1850 201 203.
Be a healthy weight:
Keep your weight at a level that is right for your height and build. Even losing a small amount of excess weight, even 10%, can help lower your blood pressure. Reducing your weight will also reduce your chances of developing diabetes which is another major risk factor for heart disease.
Be more physically active:
Long-term regular physical activity can lower your blood pressure and help to control your weight. Physical activity is also a great way to reduce stress and help you feel good. If you have very high blood pressure, consult your doctor before you start doing any form of activity.
Improve your diet and reduce your salt intake:
Salt will increase your blood pressure. Reduce the amount of salt you add to your food at the table and eat less processed foods. Include more fresh vegetables, fruit and wholegrain cereals in your diet. Eating less fat and fatty foods will also help to keep your cholesterol at a healthy level - another important way to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Drink less alcohol:
Drinking large amounts of alcohol can increase blood pressure and may damage the liver and heart. If you do drink, spread your drinking over the week, keep some days alcohol-free.
Stress will cause a short-term rise in your blood pressure. Learning to relax and cope with stress can benefit you in many ways and may help to keep your blood pressure levels low.
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