Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Although lowering secondary hypertension can be difficult, making the same lifestyle changes you would make if you had primary high blood pressure can help. These include:

  • Eat healthy foods. Try the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. Get plenty of potassium, which is found in fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, spinach, bananas and apricots, to help prevent and control high blood pressure. Eat less saturated fat and total fat.
  • Decrease the salt in your diet. A lower sodium level — 1,500 milligrams (mg) a day — is appropriate for people 51 years of age or older, and individuals of any age who are black or who have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Otherwise healthy people can aim for 2,300 mg a day or less. While you can reduce the amount of salt you eat by putting down the saltshaker, you should also pay attention to the amount of salt that's in the processed foods you eat, such as canned soups or frozen dinners.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you're overweight, losing even 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can lower your blood pressure.
  • Increase physical activity. Regular physical activity can help lower your blood pressure and keep your weight under control. Strive for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
  • Limit alcohol. Even if you're healthy, alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation — up to one drink a day for women, and two drinks a day for men.
  • Don't smoke. Tobacco injures blood vessel walls and speeds up the process of hardening of the arteries. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you quit.
  • Manage stress. Reduce stress as much as possible. Practice healthy coping techniques, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing. Getting plenty of sleep can help, too.
Mar. 15, 2013