Harvard Doctor Reveals What You Should Do Immediately After Being Diagnosed With High Blood Pressure

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States. Among its many risk factors is high blood pressure, a common yet potentially deadly health condition. One of the scariest things about the issue is it often doesn’t have any symptoms. Once your doctor has given you an official diagnosis, though, there’s a lot you can do to gain back control.

Dr. Naomi Fisher, Harvard Medical School professor, has a few key recommendations for people dealing with the condition. Here are seven steps you should take as soon as you learn you have high blood pressure.

1. Start taking your medication

Medicine with a glass of water

Have you been neglecting your medication? | Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

Your doctor will recommend plenty of changes you can make to improve your blood pressure. All of them might need to accompany a specific prescription medication. Make sure you start taking that medication right away, especially if your doctor warns your blood pressure is dangerously high.

Next: Start small with this habit.

2. Engage in a new exercise routine

Jogging in morning

Start a workout routine. | lzf/iStock/Getty Images

Sitting all day and skipping your workout (again) won’t do much to help manage your high blood pressure. Even if you start by walking around the block a few times in the evenings, a little bit of physical activity can make all the difference. Make sure you’re choosing the right workouts for you.

Next: This simple habit can completely turn around your health.

3. Reduce controllable stressors

woman meditating on the beach

Meditation always helps. | Kieferpix/iStock/Getty Images

You might not be able to do anything about that stressful job that’s paying the bills. But there are things you can do in your everyday life to reduce stress and lower your blood pressure. Meditation, exercise, and even certain foods all can help to reduce stress.

Next: If your doctor tells you this change is important, consider listening.

4. Lose some weight (if your doctor recommends it)

young healthy girl on home scales

Weigh yourself, and come up with a game plan. | Ensuria/iStock/Getty Images

Living with excess body fat makes it harder for your heart to pump blood throughout your body. Your blood pressure increases the more stressed your heart becomes. So if your doctor recommends you lose weight, you should start taking steps to make that happen right away.

Next: Consider eating a little less of this.

5. Reduce your salt intake

salt cellar and spilled salt

This is a great way to see results quickly. | Sebalos/iStock/Getty Images

Consistently eating more than 2,300 milligrams of salt daily will keep your blood pressure within a critical range. Cut back on the number of meals you order out (or in), and do what you can to learn to cook delicious meals at home using less salt.

Next: Drink a little less of this, and you’ll be fine.

6. Drink less alcohol

Two wine glasses

Drinking alcohol and high blood pressure are related. | ValentynVolkov/iStock/Getty Images

Don’t panic — no one’s here to tell you to swear off booze for good (unless you have other health problems). But frequent binge drinking can elevate your blood pressure to dangerous levels. Drink less — no more than one to two servings per day — to keep your blood pressure down.

Next: If you haven’t quit this terrible habit yet, now’s the time.

7. Stop smoking

Teenage hands holding cigarette

Smoking hurts your heart in addition to your lungs. | iStock.com

Yes, smoking is terrible for your lungs. But it’s also bad for your heart. Inhaling those chemicals can cause a disease that narrows the arteries responsible for maintaining blood flow. And narrow arteries raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease.

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