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May is recognized as High Blood Pressure Education Month, which makes it the perfect time to focus on one of the most serious threats to senior health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 68 million people are living with the condition, and it considerably raises the risk of a number of other maladies ranging from stroke and heart attack to chest pain and heart failure. Despite the dangers associated with high blood pressure, there are a number of ways for older adults to manage it or help get back to a healthy level, many of which seniors can easily implement into their lifestyle.
Pay attention to diet
As is the case with most health conditions, high blood pressure can be largely influenced by what a person eats. Some of the biggest culprits for raising blood pressure are foods high in sodium, which are typically highly processed fare. This is a significant problem for many Americans, as most people have a diet that contains too much salt, according to the CDC. The typical adult should get no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day, while those with high blood pressure should keep that level at 1,500 mg or less.
In addition to cutting sodium from their diets, seniors should also make a point to eat more fruits, vegetables and other heart-healthy foods. According to AARP, a wide variety of foods have proven to help reduce hypertension, ranging from blueberries and whole-grain breakfast cereal to potatoes and dark chocolate.
Increase physical activity
If there's one truism when it comes to senior health, it's that a sedentary lifestyle will drastically increase the risk of a number of health problems, and the same goes for hypertension. According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of exercise are simple: If seniors are more active, they will strengthen their hearts, which can help lower their blood pressure. While it may be difficult to get going, even several 10-minute bursts of exercise each day can offer benefits.
How to help
Residents at Sunrise Senior Living have ample opportunity to lower their blood pressure. Specifically, the Sunrise Signature Dining nutritional program offers a menu that already focuses on sodium control, and their highly trained chefs can show residents how to make their own heart healthy food in their homes.