Having high blood pressure, or hypertension, can be serious, putting you at a greater risk for complications such as stroke and heart attack. Controlling your blood pressure is therefore important no matter the time of year.
But since cold weather can constrict your veins and arteries, it’s especially important to take steps to control it now, when holiday stress and family gatherings also increase. Here are a few ways you can keep your blood pressure – and stress levels – low through the coming season.
Watch Your Sodium Intake
Medical experts agree that high sodium consumption can raise blood pressure. Dietary guidelines call for a maximum of 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but an estimated 90% of Americans exceed that amount.
From ham to mashed potatoes, it’s likely that your favorite holiday dishes are unfortunately a little too heavy on the salt. While you don’t have to skip these special meals altogether, be mindful of your sodium intake. Eat a low-sodium, protein rich meal earlier in the day, such as scrambled eggs. This will help fill you up so you can feel satisfied even with smaller salty portions later.
Having more than three drinks in one sitting raises blood pressure. For this reason, you’ll want to limit your holiday cocktails. After one, consider switching to sparkling water with a festive garnish. This will also help you stay hydrated, which is important since dehydration has been linked to high blood pressure.
Monitor Your Medicines
If you’ve been prescribed medication to control your blood pressure, continue taking it as directed. Since the holidays can get busy, consider using an app, alarm, or reminder on your phone to stay on top of your doses.
At the same time, be mindful of potential side effects of any over-the-counter medications you may require. “If you’re feeling congested, for example,” Dr. Sayeed advises, “consult with your provider about safe symptom relief, as many flu and cold medicines have ingredients that can increase blood pressure. Be specifically sure to steer clear of oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, and pseudoephedrine if you have high blood pressure.”
Find Healthy Stress Outlets
Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which also constricts blood vessels. While this is a natural, fight-or-flight response that helped humans react to threats in the wild, today, we’re more likely to experience extended periods of stress from factors that don’t actually endanger us. On a persistent basis, this can elevate blood pressure.
From family parties to last-minute shopping, there are many stressors that can affect us through the holiday season. Fortunately, there are healthy ways to prevent or cope with that stress. Whenever possible, try to say no to unnecessary events or commitments that lengthen your to-do list. But do take time to practice stress management, such as brisk walks outside, a warm bath, or meditation.
In addition to controlling your blood pressure, stay healthy this coming season with any vein treatments you may need. Schedule a consultation at one of our nine convenient locations by calling (770) 423-0595.