Most of us love the holidays. It’s a chance to connect with family and friends and indulge in special treats. It’s an opportunity to go that extra mile to give a special gift or create a memorable moment. But as much as we love the joy and traditions this time of year, it’s important for those who have high blood pressure (or care for someone with hypertension) to acknowledge their condition and take proactive measures to assure they will be around for many holiday seasons to come. Here are some suggestions:
Watch Out for OTC Medication Mixing
A headache. A cold. If you develop a minor illness that you would treat with over-the-counter medicines, be careful. People typically see those drugs as low-risk, but if a patient is already taking medication for high blood pressure, there can be an interaction, damage to organs or it may lessen the efficacy of a current prescription. The American Heart Association is a good resource for information about drug interactions. Reach out to a doctor for guidance.
Be Mindful of Food and Drink
A person diagnosed with hypertension, or risk of high blood pressure, is likely aware that reducing salt intake is helpful. In addition to table salt, there are many foods that have high sodium levels that are to be avoided. Check labels where you can. Even bread can be loaded with salt. But there are many sodium-free spices available now that can add flavor without elevating risk. Decadent holiday dishes and snacks, made with love and sugar and butter, can be hard to avoid, but hypertension is serious and moderation is necessary. Beverages, particularly alcohol, can also raise blood pressure, and because everyone is different, a person with high blood pressure should talk to their doctor about safe consumption for their age, gender and health situation. Just like medications, some foods can affect your blood pressure or even reduce the efficacy of a prescription you are taking. The American Heart Association recommends learning which foods may be triggers or even reduce your medication’s benefit.
Most of us overextend a bit around the holidays. At first, the bustle is great fun, but at a certain point it can become overwhelming and cause us to neglect our health. Consider plans at the start of a week and what goals are to be accomplished each day during the holidays. Avoid taking on too many responsibilities and look for ways to delegate to others.
Feeling obligation to carry on traditional activities can create a lot of pressure. Keep focused on quality interactions with the people you care about instead of preparing elaborate meals and gift-giving. Communicate honestly with loved ones about the limits you need to set this year in order to maintain your health. Consider introducing some new relaxation techniques into your life, such as a meditation website or a breathing app. Here is a nice roundup of some websites that promote relation: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/take-a-break-10-websites-to-help-you-relax-for-two-minutes/
Take Your Medication
We may tire of hearing this, but taking medication as prescribed, at the same time every day, is extremely important for wellness. If a person experiences a spike or drop in blood pressure and has not been taking meds consistently, it may take longer to determine the cause and delay effective treatment. If a new medication is causing an unexpected, unpleasant side effect, avoid skipping it until you have spoken to your doctor.
Get Exercise, Sleep Regularly
As busy as we can become during the holidays, there are also certain times when we might find ourselves sitting in front of the television for extended periods or inclined to skip our regular workouts in order to be social. It might take some rearranging, but it’s very important to keep physical activity in your daily routine. Exercise will help your system stay strong and minimize the impact of that snowman cookie.
Regular exercise also promotes healthy sleep patterns, which are vital for your overall wellness. Research is ongoing to determine the specific links between sleep and hypertension, but for now, a preliminary study suggests that insomnia and sleep apnea raise high blood pressure risk. If you have sleep issues, this article at healthgrades.com digs a little deeper.
Monitor Your Blood Pressure
Hypertension management involving a regime of daily monitoring of your pressure should be a key part of your health regime. Try to take your reading around the same time every day so that variation is notable. Morning is best – before you get busy and before you take your medicine for the day. If you are not enrolled in a remote patient monitoring (RPM) program yet, check and see if one is available to you. We are excited to offer a hypertension management solution worth your consideration. If you still prefer to take your own readings, be sure to log them for reference.
There are many great resources available for addressing holiday blood pressure triggers. Visit The American Heart Association, Here at BlueStar TeleHealth, we wish you good cheer this holiday. We also wish you good health.