Getting a Handle on Hypertension This Holiday Season

Most of us look forward to the holiday season as a time to relax, spend time with family, and enjoy a few holiday get-togethers. If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, the holidays are also a time to remain mindful about doing all you can to keep your blood pressure from creeping up.  

For those watching their weight, parties can be a minefield, with acres of calorie-laden hors d’oeuvres, baked goods, and peppermint bark. Trying to balance all the holiday gift buying, cooking, and decorating, while meeting all your other responsibilities can also stress you out considerably.

When you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic condition like hypertension, it’s essential that you establish a relationship with a primary care physician. Dr. Joseph Hagen is a caring physician with a track record of long-term relationships with his appreciative patients. 

Dr. Hagen and the entire Brook Farm Internal Medicine team provide highly coordinated, attentive care that will make you feel informed, supported, and empowered about managing your condition.

Hypertension, defined

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, happens when your blood passes through your arteries too forcefully, hitting their walls. The more blood your heart pumps, the narrower your arteries can become. 

Although a condition known as secondary hypertension can suddenly emerge, the vast majority of patients develop high blood pressure slowly over time. 

Unfortunately, hypertension is sneaky, in that it’s a silent disease. You can have high blood pressure for years without knowing it, so getting it checked regularly is critical.

Living with hypertension means that you’re also at higher risk for several serious health conditions, including:

Despite the possibility of these complications, you can take specific steps to lower your blood pressure and thus lower your disease risk.

What can I do to keep my blood pressure down over the holidays?

The holidays, though filled with fun, can exacerbate hypertension, but simply being aware of the increased risk and making healthy lifestyle choices goes a long way in keeping your blood pressure stable and reducing risk.

Dr. Hagen encourages you to have fun this year, no matter what holidays you celebrate, but take extra care of your high blood pressure. We’ve devised a “quick and dirty” list of tips, so you don’t fall off the self-care wagon:

Take it easy

Stress can get the better of us during the holidays. There never seems to be enough time to finish the shopping, your social calendar is more than full, and you’re worried about whether everyone will get along at the next family dinner. 

Higher levels of stress have been linked to hypertension, so it’s important to continue to use tools like yoga, mindfulness, coffee with a friend, or even watching a classic holiday movie to counter the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Think about what you eat

Even the most committed of us can stray from sound nutritional choices in this season of cookies, chips and dip, and seemingly endless bowls of party mix.

We know that excess sodium impacts your blood pressure negatively, so try eating a little something healthy prior to going to the party. Choose hummus or a piece of fruit, so you won’t be famished when you arrive. It will be easier to steer clear of chips, pretzels, and other overly salty staples that way.

It’s also a good idea not to go overboard with the alcohol. A cup of non-alcoholic punch can be just as refreshing to your taste buds as a hot toddy.

Take another look at over-the-counter cold medicines

The holiday season is also a time of year when sniffles and coughs are common, but it’s important to be aware that many popular OTC cold medicines can actually raise your blood pressure. It’s a good idea to discuss which ones are safe for you, as well as alternative solutions, with Dr. Hagen.

Be merry, but take good care of yourself

As part of Dr. Hagen’s customized treatment plan, he will talk to you about the importance of closely monitoring your hypertension. When armed with a plan and doable strategies, you can face the holidays — and any other time during which your routines get out of whack — with confidence.

We’re your hypertension experts, but we’re also your biggest cheerleaders. Don’t hesitate to call our office, or book an appointment online. We’re here to help you control your condition during the holidays — and all year round.

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