Lifestyle changes for managing high blood pressure

Women gathered in kitchen to talk and cook together for lowering high blood pressure.

Why knowing your blood pressure is important

High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, heart failure, stroke and brain damage, kidney damage, vision loss and erectile dysfunction. Unchecked, high blood pressure can even lead to death.

Maintaining healthy blood pressure

Mayo Clinic recommends the following lifestyle changes to help keep your blood pressure healthy:

  • Eat healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. Get plenty of potassium. Cut your intake of saturated fat and total fat.
  • Cut the salt in your diet. Try to keep your salt intake to 1,500 milligrams a day (about a teaspoon). One way is to put down the saltshaker, but be aware that there's already a lot of salt in many foods. Watch the salt content in processed foods, such as canned soups or frozen dinners.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you're overweight, losing even five pounds can lower your blood pressure.
  • Increase your physical activity. Try for at least 30 minutes of activity each day.
  • Limit your alcohol. Alcohol can raise your blood pressure even when you're healthy. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. That means one drink a day for women and people older than 65, and two a day for men.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Manage stress. Practice healthy coping skills, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing. Try to get plenty of sleep.
  • Monitor your blood pressure at home.

Sometimes, lifestyle changes alone aren't enough to control high blood pressure. Many people need the help of medicines, and your doctor may prescribe medicine to help keep your blood pressure at a safer level.*