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Lifestyle: Making lifestyle changes and high blood pressure
Q. What lifestyle changes can I make to lower my blood pressure?
A. Below we list the five main lifestyle changes you can make that will help to lower your blood pressure. Some of them will lower your blood pressure in a matter of weeks; others will take a little longer. The changes are listed below in order of speed of effect:
- Cut down on salt. This means eating more natural foods and fewer processed ones and not adding any extra salt to foods or in anything you cook. Salt naturally raises your blood pressure, eating less will reduce this effect. Please see the salt information page on our main site.
- Increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables you eat each day. Aim to eat at least five, or better still seven to nine portions a day. It's also best to eat a variety of different fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables contain potassium that counters the effect of salt and helps to lower blood pressure. Please see the fruit and vegetables page on our main site.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation. No more than 2-3 units per day for men and women. Drinking more than the recommended limits over a long period will slowly raise your blood pressure. Please see the alcohol page on our main site.
- Increase your level of activity. Build in 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five times per week. Being active not only gives your heart a good work out, but it also helps your arteries to stay flexible and better able to cope with the demands of daily life. Please see the physical activity page on our main site.
- Lose weight if you are overweight. Your doctor or nurse will be able to tell you your ideal weight. Excess weight puts extra strain on your heart and your arteries. Please see the managing your weight page on our main site.
The good news is that these changes really do work and will help to lower your blood pressure for life.
The more changes you make, the more benefit you will gain and the greater the effect is likely to be on lowering your blood pressure. In fact some people find that, by sticking to a healthy lifestyle, they don't need to take any medicines at all. For example, if you have a lot of weight to lose and are able to achieve this, you may find that you no longer need to take medicines.