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Self-Care Tips for Preventing and Reducing High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a serious health condition that can lead to other serious problems, including heart attack and stroke. All too often, it is also undiagnosed. As a result, health officials estimate that millions of Americans have high blood pressure and don't realize it.

Here are some simple yet powerful steps you can do to prevent high blood pressure from developing, and to reduce it if it already has developed.

See Your Health Coach and Get Tested
The first step you need to take is to find out what your blood pressure level is. Ideally, to do this, consult with your Health Coach and have him or her measure your blood pressure level. Doing so is a quick and easy procedure. Today, you can also find blood pressure monitors at your local drug store. Most of these devices are inexpensive and reasonably accurate, allowing you to check your blood pressure level on a regular basis without the need to see your Health Coach. However, if you currently do not know your blood pressure level, I recommend that you initially see your Health Coach so that he or she can work with you to create an optimal healthy lifestyle.

If your Health Coach finds that your blood pressure is high, be advised that he or she may recommend blood pressure medication. In cases of dangerously high blood pressure levels, such drugs can literally be lifesavers. In most cases, they work by reducing the heart's output of blood, lowering overall blood pressure, or, in the case of diuretic drugs, reducing fluid retentions.

However, although such medications may relieve the symptoms of high blood pressure, they do little or nothing to resolve its underlying causes. Additionally many of these drugs can cause unhealthy side effects and actually increase the risk of heart disease. Therefore, if you have high blood pressure, ask your Health Coach to help you determine whatever factors may be contributing to your condition. Then, if your blood pressure level isn't at a dangerous level, take a few months implementing the following self-care measures.

A healthy diet is one of the most important factors in preventing and reducing high blood pressure. The best diet is one that is low in unhealthy fats, sugar, and salt, and rich in foods containing potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Fiber-rich foods are also important. Overall, try to eat meals that contain plentiful supplies of fresh, organic vegetables, along with free-range lean meats and poultry and wild caught fish. Try to also limit your intake of carbohydrate foods, and when you do eat such foods make sure they are in the complex-carb food group.

In at least one meal each day, be sure to also include garlic and/or onions, both of which have been shown to significantly reduce both systolic and diastolic pressure levels. And be sure to eliminate all refined and simple carbohydrate foods, processed foods, and beverages while drinking lots of pure, filtered water throughout the day. Having oatmeal a few times a week for breakfast is also a good idea.

Nutritional Supplements
There are a number of nutrients that can help keep blood pressure levels under control. Some of the most beneficial are fish oils, which are rich in vitamins B3 and B6, along with a complete B-complex supplement, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and zinc. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), and the amino acids cysteine, L-tryptophan, and taurine can also be helpful.

Herbal Medicine
Perhaps the best herbal remedy for preventing and reducing high blood pressure is hawthorn, which is available at most health food stores in capsule, liquid, and extract form. Hawthorn is well known for its ability to strengthen and protect the cardiovascular system, so it's not surprising that it is beneficial for helping to manage blood pressure levels too.

Lifestyle is another significant factor for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Healthy life style choices include limiting your daily alcohol and caffeine intake, as well as not smoking and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke. If you are overweight, seek help so that you can get to within ten pounds or less of your ideal weight, as healthy weight loss can dramatically reduce high blood pressure.

Stress Management
In addition to being one of the primary causes of high blood pressure, stress is also a principal cause of nearly all other chronic health conditions. Therefore, learning how to manage stress is vitally important for your good health. Effective stress management methods include meditation, relaxation techniques, deep breathing exercises, Tai chi, and yoga. Meditation can be particularly effective, so much so in fact that in 1984 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended meditation over prescription drugs as a treatment for mild cases of high blood pressure.

Regular exercise can not only lower high blood pressure, but is also excellent for reducing stress. Ideally, you should find a way to devote at least 45 to 60 minutes each day engaged in some form of exercise or other types of physical activity. Some of the best forms of exercise for managing blood pressure levels are walking, swimming, rebounding (jumping on a mini-trampoline) and other non-strenuous types of aerobic exercise.

Caution: Before undertaking any type of exercise program for the first time consult your physician.

Social Health
In addition to the above steps, be honest with yourself and evaluate your relationships, both at work and at home. Our social interactions can dramatically affect our health for good or bad, depending on their nature. Try to avoid spending time with people who are habitually negative or who cause you stress in other ways. In addition, if you need help with your personal relationships, consider counseling or receiving some other type of guidance.

Just as importantly, try not to spend too much time alone. Numerous scientific studies show that people with strong and supportive social ties on average are healthier and usually live longer than people who tend to be "loners."

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