In another post, we provided information on how to read your blood pressure and what medical conditions may result from having prolonged high blood pressure. In this article, we offer tips from Michael X. Pham, M.D., M.P.H., chief of cardiology with Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco on how to reduce—or maintain—your blood pressure.
Better Diet, Better Heart Health
To lower one’s risk of high blood pressure, Dr. Pham encourages people to limit their sodium and eat a heart-healthy diet. Canned foods, condiments, deli meats, salad dressings and sauces are some of the biggest sodium culprits. Instead, make meals using garlic, lemon juice, herbs, spices or seasonings with no salt added. Do not add salt to prepackaged or frozen meals, as they are already loaded with sodium.
What goes on our plates at mealtime also offers insight into how healthfully we’re eating. “Mentally divide your plate into four quadrants. Two quarters (or half) should be fruits and veggies. One quarter should be proteins (lean fish, chicken or beans), and the remaining quarter should be a whole grain or starchy vegetable (brown rice, sweet potato),” says Dr. Pham.
Dr. Pham says that staying hydrated with water is good. People should avoid sugary drinks and alcohol as much as possible.
Get Those Steps In
Exercise is also key in maintaining a healthy heart. For this reason, it’s important to walk outside every day—but check air quality levels first.
Dr. Pham recommends a goal of 7,000-10,000 steps daily. “If you can’t get in a big walk all at once, break it into shorter walks throughout the day.” With increased community spread of COVID-19, he recommends walking early in the morning or early in the evening when there are fewer people out, and, if possible, be conscious of physical distancing and wear a mask. For those who cannot go outside, take frequent standing breaks and do laps around your house or yard.”
Your Heart & COVID-19
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with moderate to severe hypertension may be at increased risk of COVID-19 complications.
“Hypertension makes it harder to fight off infections. Regular check-ups allow your provider to help manage your condition and provide a proactive plan if your blood pressure gets worse,” says Dr. Pham.
Know your numbers. An at-home blood pressure monitor, available at your local drugstore or online, can track your blood pressure readings in between checkups. Dr. Pham suggests bringing your at-home monitor to your next in-person appointment to help ensure its readings are accurate and reliable.
Award-Winning Cardiac Care
In August 2020, ten hospitals across Sutter’s not-for-profit integrated network of care received recognition by the American Stroke Association for providing a high level of stroke care as part of the 2019 Get With The Guidelines® awards.
Additionally, 20 hospitals in the Sutter system received recognition from the American Heart Association for consistently applying the American College of Cardiology guidelines when treating patients with heart failure. Read more about these recognitions here.
Options For Care
The heart is one of your body’s most essential organs. Don’t take it—or caring for it—for granted.
Sutter Health is committed to your health and safety. If you need care or to make an appointment today, Sutter’s care teams are ready to serve you in person or by video visit.
For more on Sutter’s heart disease prevention programs, visit here.