April 7, 2013 is World Health Day and this year’s theme is Hypertension, or High Blood Pressure. Do you have high blood pressure? Do you know your numbers?

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There are several lifestyle changes that can really have a big impact on lowering and controlling blood pressure. Think about what you can do to keep yourself healthy. Pick several action items from this list, and start working on it today!

  • Ask your doctor what your blood pressure readings have been, and be sure he or she is checking your blood pressure regularly. Let him or her know if you’re following the DASH diet.
  • Ask your doc about your blood cholesterol too, and whether that needs some work. This is also a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Lose weight if you’re overweight. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian about what a healthy body weight should be for you.
  • Choose physical activities (with your doctor’s approval) that you enjoy and don’t try to do too much too soon. Get physically active and more fit. Try to get at least 30 minutes of activity every day. Even if you only have 10 minutes to work out, use those 10 minutes. Every few minutes counts.
  • Try working out in the morning, because studies show that people who exercise earlier in the day are the most consistent. Think about it: In the morning, fewer obstacles can get in the way of your busy life.
  • Drink more water and less high calorie beverages.
  • Eat less dessert and fewer sweetened baked goods, and when you do indulge, eat smaller portions.
  • Quit smoking — and if you’re not a smoker, don’t start!
  • Replace salt in recipes with flavorful herbs and spices, or use half the salt.
  • Remove the salt shaker from the table.
  • If your doctor prescribes medications for you, take them exactly as directed.