4 lifestyle changes to help manage hypertension | Health & Medicine | Khan Academy

4 lifestyle changes to help manage hypertension | Health & Medicine | Khan Academy


So let’s say that you
have hypertension, and you’d like to figure
out what to do about it. There actually is a
lot of good news here. So there are about four
different major things I can think of that you
can do to help reduce hypertension– fairly
easy things you can do in your own home. The first is your diet. So there’s something called
the Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension,
which basically means that you can
actually use your diet to help reduce your
blood pressure. And a few different
groups have actually come together and endorsed
this set of guidelines, like the American Heart
Association and the Mayo Clinic. And I actually went
through and tried to figure out exactly
what this DASH diet would recommend for me. So I’m going to draw
for you a plate. This is kind of a
plate of food, if you can imagine– all my meals in
one day on one plate of food. This is what the DASH
diet would recommend. This is one day. And I take about 2,000
calories in a day. So the DASH diet
suggests that for me, I should have about
five fruits in a day. And I should have five
vegetables in a day. So a total of 10
fruits and vegetables. And then on top of that,
about seven grains, of which three are whole grains. So three whole grains. And for the remainder
of my plate, it suggests two dairy products. So that would be something like
non-fat milk or low-fat milk products, like yogurt, cheese. And two meat products. So it’s not required
that you eat meat. In fact, it’s not
necessary at all. But if you do,
the recommendation is to have no more than
two meat servings in a day. And if you are
going to have meat, definitely like a lean meat. So these are the servings in
one day that it recommends. And on top of
that, in a week, it says I should probably have
about four servings of nuts and seeds. And it also went on to
say that I should probably try to limit how many
sweets I take in. This would be like candy or
any sort of dessert– donuts. And any sort of
fatty food or oil. So fats and oils. And this would be like
potato chips or fries, things like that. So really try to
limit those things. And if you do this
for a couple weeks, you’re actually shown in studies
to have lower blood pressure at the end of it. So within two weeks,
this starts to make a difference, which
is pretty phenomenal. So you can tell
based on the way I’ve drawn this out that the DASH
diet is really stressing fruits– I’m writing as an
“F,” and “V” for vegetables. And also stressing
lots of grains, “G.” So lots of fruits,
vegetables, and grains. It’s also mentioned
in the DASH diet that you should be
on a low-sodium diet. So low sodium, which
is a limit of 1,500 milligrams of sodium in a day. And finally, the DASH diet says
that if you drink alcohol– let’s say you drink alcohol–
that you should really try to limit your
alcohol to less than two servings
of alcohol in a day. So less than, or equal to, two
servings of alcohol in a day. Now, in addition to diet,
there are a few other things you can do as well. So you could exercise. And exercise is actually
very important in trying to reduce your blood pressure. And there are a few
different types of exercise. There’s resistance
training with weights. There’s stretching, as folks
that do yoga can tell you. But the type of
exercise that’s probably most helpful for hypertension
is aerobic exercise. So you want to try to
stress aerobic exercise. Now, when I say
aerobic exercise, I mean things like going for
a swim or going for a jog. And maybe even a brisk walk,
if that suits what you enjoy. Or a bike ride. So something like this that
really gets your heart pumping, and getting blood to flow all
the way throughout your body, instead of just
one muscle group. So aerobic exercise
is really important. And in terms of how
much aerobic exercise, a rough rule of
thumb that I use is suggesting about 30 minutes per
day for about five days a week. And I find that that’s
a very reasonable thing that a lot of people can
do, and find enjoyable. OK, so diet and exercise. If you’re doing
these two things, you’re likely to
be losing weight. And I’m going to
talk about weight in terms of a BMI,
a Body Mass Index. So if you’re hypertensive,
it’s a really good idea to try to get your BMI
in a healthy range. And for adults, that would
be between 18.5 and 25. It’s a very healthy
range of BMI. And it’s actually
really important that you get there, especially
if you’re on the high side. So let’s say you’re obese
and your BMI’s over 30, or you’re slightly
overweight, over 25. Getting that BMI down below
25 is really, really critical. And finally, for smokers,
it’s really important to try to quit smoking. So this is a fantastic time
to kind of take your health into your hands and finally
quit smoking or using tobacco products. And nowadays, we actually
have so many medications that really help with this,
as well as counseling, that it makes it much, much
easier to try to quit smoking. It’s never an easy thing
to do, but it’s certainly a lot easier when you have
medications and counseling to help you, and you have
a good reason to do it, like you have hypertension. So these are the
four kind of things to keep in mind in terms of
things you can do at home.

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