Heart and Vascular Health 5 Tips for Managing High Blood Pressure By Heart and Vascular Institute, August 28, 2017 Living with high blood pressure? If so, you’re not alone. According to the American Heart Association, about 85 million Americans have this condition. The good news is that high blood pressure can be treated. Your doctor can make a plan to help you manage your blood pressure that includes simple lifestyle changes. To learn more about how to manage high blood pressure, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484). Lifestyle Tips for Dealing with High Blood Pressure Eat a heart-healthy diet Choose fresh, whole foods and limit processed and packaged foods in your diet. Eating a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean meat, poultry, and fish, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products can help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. Get active Regular activity — 30 minutes each day — can help control your weight and lower your stress levels, which can help control your blood pressure. The key to sticking with an activity plan is to choose something you like, such as walking, biking, dancing, or swimming. Be sure to talk with your doctor about what’s safe before you start any new exercise plan. RELATED: 5 Ways Walking Helps Your Heart Limit your sodium and alcohol intake Both sodium and alcohol can raise blood pressure. Sodium is found in many foods; however, processed, packaged foods tend to be higher in sodium than fresh fruits and vegetables. Pay attention to nutrition labels and, if necessary, talk with a registered dietitian — an expert in food and nutrition — about controlling your sodium intake. If you drink alcohol, limit your intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Don’t smoke Smoking harms your heart and blood vessels in many ways. It temporarily raises blood pressure, makes it more likely for blood to form dangerous clots, and lowers your ability to exercise. If you’re a smoker, talk with your doctor about how to quit. It’s also a good idea to avoid secondhand smoke. Follow your treatment plan Your doctor will make a treatment plan that may include medicine and lifestyle changes to help control your blood pressure. It’s very important to follow your treatment plan and to stay on your medicines, even if your blood pressure improves. Never stop taking blood pressure medicine without talking to your doctor first, and keep up with your lifestyle changes.