9 helpful tips for maintaining a healthy blood pressure

World Hypertension Day is Oct. 17, and the American Heart Association (AHA) is celebrating by emphasizing the importance of blood pressure management. Nearly half of all U.S. adults have high blood pressure, the group noted in a statement—and 75% of those patients aren’t working to keep it under control.

“Now, more than ever, it is important for you to pay attention to your blood pressure, know your numbers, work with your healthcare provider to control your levels and manage your risks,” said Mitchel S. V. Elkind, MD, MS, president of the AHA and a professor at Columbia University in New York City. “Lowering your blood pressure is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.”

The AHA shared nine “small changes” that can help people make sure they maintain a healthy blood pressure:

  1. Check your blood pressure regularly to make sure it stays in the range of 120/80 or below. Anything at 130/80 or above is considered high.
  2. Take prescribed blood pressure medications as directed, and let your healthcare provider know about any questions or concerns.
  3. Closely read the labels of all over-the-counter medications.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight, with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.
  5. Eat a healthy diet, including “lot of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.”
  6. Reduce your daily sodium intake, with a goal of under 1,500 mg per day.
  7. Remain active, working to achieve at least 150 minutes of activity per week.
  8. Limit alcohol consumption to one or two drinks per day. “If you don’t drink, don’t start.”
  9. Don’t smoke, including electronic cigarettes. “If you don’t smoke, don’t start.”

The full AHA statement is available here.