Ways to cut high blood pressure

We YOU docs don’t like to start with scary stuff, but this gave us a post-Halloween fright night: Deaths related to high blood pressure jumped after the recession settled in. People apparently started skipping blood pressure checks and meds because of financial worries.

Don’t let the economy do in your blood pressure. Stress, cheap-but-salty food, sleepless nights and penny-pinching on BP drugs send your risk of a heart attack and stroke up, up, up. As it is, one in three adults now has this invisible killer. Another one in four is at high risk. And hypertension now affects one in five 20- and 30-year-olds.

Think you can’t afford to fight off this threat? Actually, you can’t afford not to. Hypertension’s behind seven out of 10 first heart attacks and strokes. If you have one of these Big Bad Events, your family finances will be trashed — out-of-pocket medical costs alone could easily top $20,000.

We know money’s tight. The trick is finding ways to control or prevent high blood pressure on a budget. YOU can do it. We can help. Actually, managing BP can be a bargain. Start with daily exercise (a 30-minute walk is free).

Then add these proven, not pricey, steps:     

 

  • Always ask about generic meds. They’re usually just as good as brand names and save a bundle. Case in point: generic diuretics. At $25 to $40 a year (yep, a year), they’re flat-out cheap. Your savings: A year’s worth of the newer meds can hit $600.
  • Make a (small) investment in a home blood-pressure monitor, then use it daily. Your ultimate goal: 115/75. Take a reading every morning.
  • Push sodium off your plate. Everyone could benefit from less-salty eating. You could see a huge BP drop by trading pretzels for walnuts, salt-sodden processed and fast foods for home-cooked chili, grilled chicken, baked sweet potatoes, salads galore and berries swirled into no-fat Greek yogurt.

3 foods to lower your blood pressure

Eat these daily

1. Tomato sauce — No added sugar or salt
2. Blueberries — Frozen are fine and cheap
3. Dark chocolate — 1 ounce per day

The YOU Docs — Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show” and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic — are authors of “YOU: Losing Weight.” For more information, go to www.RealAge.com.

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