Tips for Controlling High Blood Pressure

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, a great time to learn what you can do to reduce high blood pressure and lower your risk for stroke and heart attack.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, makes your heart work too hard, which increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Many people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. With heart attack the leading cause of firefighter line-of-duty deaths, it is important that you check your blood pressure regularly. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor, and make sure they know that you are a firefighter or EMT.

There are simple lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your risk of high blood pressure. 

  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly – knowing your numbers helps you stay in charge of your health.
  • Maintain a healthy weight range, based on your age and gender (as recommended by a physician).
  • Participate in a minimum of 30-60 minutes of moderately intense activity 5 times per week.
  • Reduce your salt intake, choosing reduced-sodium food options when available.
  • Take medications as directed and speak with your physician about any questions or concerns.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption, which constricts blood vessels and causes an increase in blood pressure.
  • Increase your potassium intake to help lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure.
  • Avoid tobacco products, which cause blood pressure to increase.
  • Cut back on caffeine, which can increase blood pressure.
  • Take steps to reduce your stress outside of the fire station.

Learn more and find additional resources for lowering your blood pressure from the NVFC's Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.