Here are 7 steps you can take this month to get started on the right path to lower blood pressure and heart health.

1. Lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight will lower your blood pressure and make any medication you take to treat high blood pressure more effective. One of the easiest ways to evaluate your weight is by calculating your body mass index (BMI).

2. Increase your physical activity

By being regularly active you will strengthen your heart. By strengthening your heart it will be able to pump blood more efficiently meaning less force against your artery walls. Physical activity can decrease systolic blood pressure 5 to 10 mm Hg. Regular physical activity will also help you maintain normal blood pressure levels.

3. Limit caffeine intake

Caffeine contacted in 24-36 ounces of coffee (2-3 cups) can increase systolic blood pressure (top number) 3-14 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) 4-13 mm Hg. This increase is usually short term; however, if you have high blood pressure it is best to limit your caffeine intake.

4. Manage stress

Research hasn’t found a direct link between stress and elevated blood pressure; however, the behaviors stress elicits do impact blood pressure, such as overeating, lack of sleep, and alcohol consumption, do affect blood pressure.

5. Reduce your alcohol intake

If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. More than two drinks daily for men and one for women can elevate blood pressure. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

6. Stop smoking

The nicotine in cigarettes narrows your blood vessels. This increases your hearts work load which raises blood pressure. Another complication is the carbon monoxide in cigarettes takes the place of some oxygen in your blood. This means the heart must work harder to circulate enough oxygen leading to elevated blood pressure. There are over 4800 chemicals in cigarettes; no level of smoking is “safe” for the health of your heart.

7. Consult your physician

You must work with your physician to ensure your treatment plan is appropriate for your situation. If you have been on blood pressure medication for awhile this is a great time to discuss your treatment plan and determine if any adjustments need to be made for optimal results.

Out of these 7 steps, which will you implement?

Author's Bio: 

Be sure to sign up for the free e-course 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure provided by dietitian Lisa Nelson at