Keeping High Blood Pressure at Bay While on Vacation

Keeping High Blood Pressure at Bay While on Vacation

AHA News: Keeping High Blood Pressure at Bay for the Holidays

No matter what winter holiday traditions you celebrate, you probably won’t find “think about blood pressure” on your to-do list, even after double-checking it.

But it would be a good idea for your heart’s sake, experts say.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke, said Dr. Angela L. Brown, director of the hypertension clinic at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Studies have shown that cardiovascular problems increase after Thanksgiving and peak in the New Year.

People often put their health on the back burner at this time of year, Brown said. But they shouldn’t. “The holiday season is a fun time,” she said. “You want to approach the holidays healthy and you want to leave the holiday season healthy.”

With that goal in mind, here are some tips for keeping your blood pressure under control while on vacation.

Think before you feast

“We all enjoy a good party,” Brown said. “But if you have high blood pressure in particular, you need to be mindful of what you eat.”

So if you’re going out, consider having a healthy meal at home first, she said, to avoid overdoing it.

Similarly, Dr. Karen Griffin, a nephrologist at Loyola Medicine in Maywood, Illinois, suggested getting screened before snacking at a family gathering.

“Do a little prep work and look around and see what’s on that buffet that Aunt Sally made,” said Griffin, who also works at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois.

A veggie platter, she says, can be a great place to stock up on something healthy. But watch the dip and use just a little. “A lot of people think, ‘Well, if I eat vegetables, I’m in the clear.’ But they load it up so there’s more dip than vegetables.”

When you sit down for the big meal, go ahead and eat your fill, Griffin said. You don’t want to leave hungry, so go overboard with the desserts which are overabundant at this time of year.

The sodium outside is awful

Limiting sodium is difficult this time of year, Griffin said, and always important.

Excess sodium in your bloodstream draws water inside your blood vessels, which raises blood pressure. Table salt is one source, but most of the sodium in the typical American diet comes from processed foods.

That means being careful with anything that’s been canned, preserved or packaged, Griffin said. “A lot of the hams that will be circulating are also probably quite high in sodium.”

Federal dietary guidelines recommend adults consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. The American Heart Association suggests an ideal limit of 1,500 milligrams per day for most adults.

“If you’re cooking, one thing you can do is leave the majority of the salts to be added at the table,” Griffin said, so guests watching their sodium can enjoy the meal with other people but add salt to their way. discretion.

And here’s good news for people trying to adjust to a low-sodium diet. The less salt you use, the better your body tastes, she said. After a few weeks you won’t need it to get the same flavor.

Look at this cup of joy

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. Although federal dietary guidelines allow for moderate drinking (two or fewer glasses a day for men and one or fewer for women), Griffin also suggests paying attention to what’s in your holiday cocktail.

For example, margaritas are served in salt-rimmed glasses. “Stay away from those,” Griffin said.

Be careful when taking these drugs…

In the cold season, people look for over-the-counter medicines. But decongestants can raise blood pressure. Check the packaging for warnings, says Griffin, or ask your doctor.

…but stick to these

Holidays can disrupt routines. If you take medicine to control high blood pressure, you may need extra boosters.

Tracking apps can help, Brown said. But Griffin said it could be as simple as carrying a pillbox and setting an alarm.

Have funukah

“As much fun as the holidays bring, they also bring stress for people,” Brown said. Stress-related hormones have been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure. Stress can also contribute to depression, said Brown, which has also been linked to high blood pressure.

“I think it’s important to set boundaries and remember to take time for yourself,” Brown said. But, she warned, don’t react by overeating or consuming too much alcohol, “because that just makes the problem worse.”

Exercise can help with stress, Brown said, so try to find time to take walks, do yoga, or just sit back and relax.

Griffin said that to deal with stress, “I just take it a day at a time, and sometimes an hour at a time. And I just live in the present.”

After all, she says, vacations are meant to be fun. “Do you remember how it was when you were a kid? That’s how it should be.”

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