Let’s be honest. Holidays can be stressful. Schedules are hectic, we’re scrambling for last minute gifts and it’s the season of stuffy noses and financial woes. All of these stressors can negatively impact our health and for those with hypertension, stress can cause a fluctuation in blood pressure.
The good news? We’ve teamed up with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System to bring you some easy ways to keep your blood pressure in check this holiday season to reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Be wary of decongestants. Before you use an over-the-counter cold and flu medication, check to see if it contains a decongestant. These drugs, which are used to relieve a stuffy nose, can raise blood pressure. They may also make your prescribed blood pressure medication less effective.
A decongestant should be used for only the shortest amount of time possible — and never by someone with severe or uncontrolled high blood pressure. If you have a stuffy nose, consider trying nasal saline, intranasal corticosteroids or antihistamines.
Keep track of medication. Studies show that both heart attacks and strokes increase in the winter months.
To decrease this risk, take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. The American Heart Association’s Check. Change. Control. Tracker can help by allowing you to set up text message medication reminders, track your blood pressure readings and connect with health care providers.
Maintain healthy eating habits. It can be hard to eat healthy during a holiday season filled with rich foods and sweet treats. Also, many seasonal foods such as bread, cheeses and prepared meats are high in sodium, which can increase blood pressure. It’s fine to indulge a little, but make sure to include some healthy meals, too.
Staying active can also help. If it’s too chilly to be outside, Bon Secours offers some great tips on how you can stay active indoors. Bon Secours also provides ways for you to get moving through their Well Walkers program every Tuesday and Thursday.
Our mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. For nearly 100 years, we’ve been fighting heart disease and stroke, striving to save and improve lives. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer worldwide, and stroke ranks second globally. Even when those conditions don’t result in death, they cause disability and diminish quality of life. We want to see a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.