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Lifestyle changes and medication
Is there anything I can do to help lower my BP?
There are many lifestyle measures which you can adopt, to help reduce your BP and reduce
your risk of heart disease:
1. Weight reduction – try and maintain an ideal ‘body mass index’ (BMI) of 20 – 25
(calculated by weight in kg divided by your height in metres squared)
Click here to help you calculate your BMI
2. Stop smoking – smoking is a major factor related to deaths from stroke or heart disease;
those who stop smoking reduce their risk by 50% after just 1 year, and after 10 years have the
same risk as a non-smoker.
There is a weekly drop-in smoking cessation clinic at the town hall if you feel you would
need help with this, or you can contact “Quit 4 life” on 0845 602 4663
3. Healthy diet – Eating the right kinds of food can go a long way to helping you keep your
heart healthy. The good news is that this doesn’t mean boring, flavourless meals. It just
involves making a few adjustments and being more careful about what foods you choose to
Top healthy eating tips:
Adopt a Mediterranean-style diet
Reduce intake of saturated fats e.g. red meat and cheese
Each day, eat at least 5 portions of different fruit and/or vegetables
Reduce intake of salty foods and limit your daily intake to 6g per day (about a level
Remember to be aware of hidden salt levels
Choose whole grains and high fibre foods
Each week, eat between 2-4 portions of oily fish, salmon and trout, to provide omega3 (an essential fatty acid)
We particularly recommend the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension)
for patients with high blood pressure. You can download and print out the DASH diet plan
guide by going to:
4. Limit alcohol consumption – Men 21 or less units per week; Women 14 or less units per
week. (1 unit = half pint of ordinary strength beer, or 1 small pub measure of spirit, or 1
standard pub measure (50ml) of wine) – units will vary according to the alcohol content.
Binge drinking is associated with an increased risk of stroke.
5. Increase physical activity – this must be tailored to you as an individual, but it is
recommended to engage in regular aerobic physical activity eg. brisk walking, for at least 30
minutes most days (or at least 3 times a week).
Enjoying some form of physical activity for about 20-30 minutes per day will help your heart.
The good news is that this doesn’t mean you have to join a gym, it is just important to fit
higher levels of physical activity into your lifestyle.
To get started, put some extra effort into everyday activities. For example; walk the dog a
little further, walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift, or park your car at the far end of the
car park when you go shopping.
Build up gradually. Aerobic forms of exercise such as swimming, walking or cycling are all
excellent, but don’t worry, they take a while to get used to. Pushing yourself too hard may
lead to injury or over-exhaustion.
Stop if you experience any chest pain that does not go away when you rest and contact your
doctor or nurse. (It is recommended that you go to the nearest hospital if your chest pain is
In some circumstances it is reasonable to try the above measures for a period of time to see if
your blood pressure goes to normal.