Lowering Your Blood Pressure Might Be Easier Than You Think

May 25, 2022

elder man taking his blood pressure with MP logo

May is High Blood Pressure Awareness Month — the perfect time to make sure you’ve had your blood pressure checked within the last 12 months. High readings indicate you’re pushing your chances for developing serious health problems. These include heart disease and stroke — as well as kidney disease, dementia, artery disease, vision loss, and more. Pregnant women with high blood pressure are also more like to develop complications.

Enough of the dark side. The good news is that if you’re one of half of Americans who have high blood pressure, there’s a lot you can do to get it under control.

  1. Work with your doctor to set targets. Your doctor can give you blood pressure numbers to work towards and help you track your progress. 
  2. Identify healthy changes you can make, like quitting smoking or adding more activity to your days. Read on for specific ideas below. 
  3. Recruit support. Research shows you’re more likely to stick with your efforts if you have family, friends, online partners, or others in your community rooting for you. 

Eight healthy changes you can live with
Radical changes can feel daunting and prove difficult to stick with for the long haul. But small steps like these can help you gain control over high blood pressure — especially over time:

  • Add an extra serving of fruit or vegetables to as many meals as you can. Make it fun by choosing the freshest fare from a local farmers’ market or going for the most colorful options at the grocery store. (Find a farmers’ market in Maine or New Hampshire.)

elder couple shopping for vegetables

younger couple walking with dog downtown portland

  • Meditate for 10 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Find a quiet place to sit. Close your eyes and repeat a mantra such as “be here now” — or simply focus breathing slowly in and out.
  • Try Meatless Mondays.
  • Invite a neighbor for a walk. Pick a day of the week and keep it on your calendars.
  • Use free resources to quit smoking. Connect with Maine QuitLink for support and coaching (1-800-784-8669). In New Hampshire, call QuitNow-NH at 1-800-784-8669.
  • Talk to your doctor if managing stress is a challenge.
  • Take the stairs. Apartment buildings, doctor’s offices, parking garages — there are opportunities to sneak in heart healthy exercise everywhere!

elder woman walking up stairs