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How to Avoid a High Blood Pressure Holiday

New Year’s Eve is just around the corner, in the season of love and merriment, and a complete destruction of the daily schedule our minds and bodies are accustomed to. It’s really enough to raise your blood pressure. Whether your blood pressure is in a stable range already (below 120/80) or in danger of being in hypertension, be aware of what will cause your blood pressure to increase and put a full stop to your holiday enjoyment.

To stay on top of your health and enjoy the holidays, Dr. Tanquilut at Vascular Specialists has five tips to help you enjoy New Year’s Eve.

Limit alcohol intake – It is difficult to find a holiday gathering without the addition of a specialty adult beverage. Whether it’s a liquor in the morning coffee, a glass of wine with dinner, or a traditional Old Fashion nightcap, limit your alcohol intake to one or two beverages a day and make sure you are also increasing your water consumption.

Avoid salty foods – Sodium will increase your blood pressure. Ideally, adults will consume 1,500 mg or less of sodium per day to help maintain a healthy blood pressure. The typical advice is to read labels of everything you eat to monitor your sodium consumption, but when you are a guest, that is difficult - if not impossible - to do (and Dr. T doesn’t recommend rummaging through the trash for discarded containers and labels).

Avoid the fancy charcuterie boards’ processed (salty) meats, salty cheeses, super salty olives, and salty crackers. Stick with fruits and vegetables before dinner. During dinner, take smaller portions of the main meat entree and do not add table salt to anything. We feel certain there was enough added during the cooking process.

Stick to your bedtime – Late night caroling and joking with those you love the most are special memories. However, too many late nights in a row may raise your blood pressure. A recent study reports that "sleep helps your body control hormones needed to regulate stress and metabolism. Over time, a lack of sleep could cause swings in hormones, leading to high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.”

Consistent late nights and averaging less than six hours of sleep can assist in the disruption of hormones needed to control blood pressure. The best way to keep your blood pressure regulated is to go to sleep at the same time every night and sleep for at least seven to eight hours.

Stay on medication schedule – A consistent routine for everything is the best recipe for success. Taking your medicine at the same time everyday not only ensures that it is a part of your daily routine but it also ensures that your body has an effective amount of the drug at all times.

The holidays and activities may throw schedules off, but do not let it throw off your medication. Remember to be mindful of scheduling activities. If you need to eat prior to taking your medication, make sure that you are carrying a snack and water with you or that food will be available. Set a timer on your phone or watch to remind you to take your medication. Dr. T says this is a great New Year’s resolution, to be sure to take meds at the correct time every day of the year.

Manage stress – Increased family time with the high expectations of the holidays comes with its own versions of stress. Chronic stress plays a part in high blood pressure. Occasional stress effects high blood pressure based on how you react to stress. Just like with salty foods, have a plan to manage stress that may come up.

Don’t overschedule. Avoid unnecessary conversation with that cousin who constantly picks fights. Review and adjust your expectations and prepare responses. Take a break when you’re feeling tense to take deep breaths, adjust your mindset and keep your body calm, perhaps in another room or by going outside.

Take the steps to regulate your blood pressure for the holiday and resolve to keep making healthy choices throughout the year. Here’s to a wonderful 2022 from Dr. Tanquilut, Dr. Pradhan, Dr. Coffey and all of us at Vascular Specialists!

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