A blood pressure measurement contains two numbers. The top number is called the systolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure when the heart beats and pumps blood. The bottom number, or diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. A systolic pressure over 140 mmHg is considered high. A person can have a high systolic reading and a normal diastolic reading. This is called isolated systolic hypertension. Medications may be needed to lower a person's systolic pressure, but in some cases, lifestyles changes can lower blood pressure and prevent complications such as stroke, heart disease and kidney disease.
Exercise 30 minutes a day.
Maintain a healthy weight. MayoClinic.com states that decreasing weight by 5 lbs. can reduce systolic pressure.
Quit smoking. Smoking damages blood vessels and causes the arteries to harden.
Buy a home blood pressure monitoring machine at a local drugstore and take a blood pressure reading daily. Knowing whether or not lifestyle changes are decreasing systolic blood pressure can help a person and his doctor form an appropriate treatment plan.
Stop adding salt to your food and limit your sodium intake. Healthy adults should limit sodium to 2,400 mg a day. People with isolated systolic hypertension who reduce sodium to 1,500 mg a day can significantly reduce systolic pressure.
Follow the DASH diet.
Eat two to four servings of vegetables a day.
Eat fruit. Add a serving of fruit to you lunch and dinner or have a serving of fruit as a snack. Use fruits canned in their own juices. Carry dry fruits for a quick snack.
Eat no more than 6 oz. of meat a day. Limit meat consumption to two servings of 3 oz. of meat, which is about the size of a deck of cards.
Eat dairy products. Increase dairy products to three servings a day. Replace soda, alcohol or sweet tea with 1 percent or fat-free dairy products.
Use butter, margarine and salad dressings sparingly. Try low-fat or fat-free condiments.
Snack on popcorn without butter or salt, low-fat yogurt, raw vegetables, graham crackers, unsalted nuts and unsalted pretzels.