Colder weather: How to manage your blood pressure and health
(BPT) - Research shows that as the temperature drops, your blood pressure tends to increase. The changing weather brings cooler temperatures – and increases your risk for heart attack, stroke and other serious health conditions.
Measure Up/Pressure Down is a national high blood pressure campaign, led by the American Medical Group Foundation, and aims to empower people to measure, monitor and maintain a healthy blood pressure. As the weather changes, Measure Up/Pressure Down and campaign supporter United Health Foundation have three tips for your heart health:
1. Understand high blood pressure:
High blood pressure, also called hypertension by medical professionals, means that the force of blood pushing through your body is too strong. That pressure puts a strain on your arteries, which carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. In colder weather, blood vessels constrict more than normal, which raises blood pressure. By understanding what high blood pressure is, you can make lifestyle changes to stay on top of the disease.
2. Practice healthy habits:
Healthy habits –such as being physically active, eating healthy and limiting alcohol – can be critical to managing your high blood pressure year round, especially during fall and winter. Try to get up and move for at least 30 minutes each day. As the weather changes, modify your exercise routine to include raking leaves, shoveling snow or walking indoors at a nearby mall. During the holiday season, many people indulge in unhealthy food and large amounts of alcohol at holiday parties, family festivities and other gatherings. You don’t need to give up everything you love, but set limits before each event to ensure you don’t go overboard. With high blood pressure, it’s important to limit sodium and harmful fats. You should also limit alcohol to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
3. Measure and monitor your blood pressure regularly:
If you have high blood pressure, talk with your healthcare team about how frequently you should monitor your blood pressure. Blood pressure monitors are inexpensive and can be purchased at pharmacies and other stores. Many community locations, like supermarkets and pharmacies, have machines that take and record your blood pressure. Others, including fire departments or local gyms, may have staff on hand that can measure your blood pressure for you. Be sure to properly position your body for an accurate reading. For instance, when you measure blood pressure over a coat or jacket, your reading can be falsely elevated.
More than one in three Americans have high blood pressure. To measure, monitor and maintain your blood pressure all year round and learn more about this disease, please visit MeasureUpPressureDown.com.