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5. Limit the amount
of alcohol you drink
Alcohol can be both good and bad for
your health. In small amounts, it can
potentially lower your blood pressure by
2 to 4 mm Hg. But that protective effect
is lost if you drink too much alcohol —
generally more than one drink a day for
women and more than two a day for
men. Also, if you don’t normally drink
alcohol, you shouldn’t start drinking
as a way to lower your blood pressure.
There’s more potential harm than beneft
to drinking alcohol.
If you drink more than moderate
amounts of it, alcohol can actually raise
blood pressure by several points. It can
also reduce the effectiveness of high
blood pressure medications.
Track your drinking patterns.
Along with your food diary, keep
an alcohol diary to track your true
drinking patterns. One drink equals
12 ounces (355 milliliters, or mL)
of beer, 5 ounces of wine (148 mL)
or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor (45
mL). If you’re drinking more than the
suggested amounts, cut back.
Consider tapering off.
If you’re a
heavy drinker, suddenly eliminating
all alcohol can actually trigger severe
high blood pressure for several days.
So when you stop drinking, do it with
the supervision of your doctor or taper
off slowly, over one to two weeks.
Don’t binge.
Binge drinking -
having four or more drinks in a row -
can cause large and sudden increases
in blood pressure, in addition to other
health problems.
6. Avoid tobacco
products and
secondhand smoke
On top of all the other dangers of
smoking, the nicotine in tobacco
products can raise your blood pressure
by 10 mm Hg or more for up to an hour
after you smoke. Smoking throughout
the day means your blood pressure may
remain constantly high.
You should also avoid secondhand
smoke. Inhaling smoke from others also
puts you at risk of health problems,
including high blood pressure and heart
disease.
7. Cut back on
caffeine
The role caffeine plays in blood pressure
is still debatable. Drinking caffeinated
beverages can temporarily cause a spike
in your blood pressure, but it’s unclear
whether the effect is temporary or long
lasting.
To see if caffeine raises your blood
pressure, check your pressure within
30 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee
or another caffeinated beverage you
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