Have you been diagnosed with high blood pressure?
According to recent statistics, about 77.9 million (1 out of every 3) adults have high blood pressure in the United States.
If you’re one of those people, you might be concerned about using medication to bring it down.
It’s important to remember that lifestyle plays a significant part in controlling your blood pressure.
Before we get into the 15 tips to naturally lower blood pressure, let’s discuss why blood pressure is important and what can cause it.
Why is blood pressure important?
Your blood pressure is an important factor in your health.
According to Medical News Today, high blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
One study that analyzed the life course of people with high blood pressure levels at age 50 in terms of total life expectancy found that “compared with hypertensive (a person with higher blood pressure”, total life expectancy was 5.1 and 4.9 years longer for normotensive (normal blood pressure) men and women, respectively.”
Not only is high blood pressure a risk factor for our health, but a study has found that it may affect brain health as well.
The results of the study found that between ages 36 and 43, as well as from 43 to 53, there was an association between greater than normal increases in blood pressure and a smaller brain volume later in life. .
Your blood pressure is measured against two factors: one is the amount of blood your heart pumps and the other is the resistance to that blood flow in your arteries.
Arteries carry blood away from the heart so if your heart has to work harder to pump the blood, it can cause problems.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is also known as “the silent killer” because you can have symptoms of high blood pressure without even knowing it.
To help you better understand the risks and factors associated with high blood pressure, we’ve put together a short guide.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
As mentioned, the symptoms of high blood pressure are often difficult to identify on their own, but there are some things to watch out for as you go about your daily routines.
For instance, you may experience severe headaches, shortness of breath, or nosebleeds – although none of these is an indicator of high blood pressure on their own.
It usually requires the diagnosis of a doctor to determine that you have high blood pressure.
It’s also important to point out that these symptoms may not appear until the later stages of the condition, which can prove to be life-threatening if left untreated.
When is it serious?
High blood pressure is a serious condition, but unless you know you have it, there is nothing you can do about it.
Instead of waiting for the serious signs and symptoms to emerge, it’s best to have regular check-ups with your doctor in order to determine if there is a problem before it becomes a serious problem.
If your heart health history has shown that your blood pressure is creeping up over time, it may be worth considering treatment or intervention.
If you are able to check your blood pressure on your own at home, do so at regular intervals. Always check both arms to determine if there is a difference.
Your doctor may also do this. If you experience any kind of dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, or severe headaches and have not been to a doctor in a while, make an appointment just to be safe.
What causes high blood pressure?
We don’t know the exact cause of high blood pressure, but Web MD says there may be a number of causes related to high blood pressure, including lifestyle choices such as diet, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol, and the amount of sleep you get.
If you are prone to anxiety, depression, or have a history of heart disease, you are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
If you do drugs or take certain medications for other conditions, your blood pressure may be impacted.
Other conditions such as problems with your kidneys, sleep apnea, thyroid or other glandular problems, birth control pills, and decongestants can all cause high blood pressure.
What are the risk factors?
Besides the pre-existing conditions you may have and the lifestyle choices you make, other risk factors may contribute to your likelihood of developing high blood pressure.
These can include your age. As you get older, your arteries become clogged and that can contribute to the increase in your blood pressure.
Depending on your race, you may be more at risk than others. If there is a family history of heart disease or stroke, you are more at risk of developing hypertension.
Other risk factors include obesity, salt intake, pregnancy, and diabetes.
If you are concerned about your blood pressure or your risk factors, speak to your doctor. Don’t try to self medicate or treat high blood pressure at home.
If you are unsure and want to confirm your suspicions, the best place to do that is in your family doctor’s office.
1) Watch your waistline
According to research, blood pressure tends to increase as weight increases. Weight loss is seen as one of the most effective changes for controlling your blood pressure.
Lightening the load you carry every day will reduce the stress on your heart, not to mention your knees. The less you weigh, the less strain there is on your body.
According to national guidelines, for every 20 pounds you lose, you can drop systolic pressure 5-20 points.
To put that in perspective, guidelines suggest that systolic numbers above 140 and diastolic numbers (the bottom number) above 90 are considered high.
2) Exercise regularly
Regular physical exercise may help reduce blood pressure and is broadly recommended by current American and European hypertension guidelines.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to run a marathon to lower your pressure. Exercising as little as 30 minutes a day can do the trick in lowering your pressure.
By regular physical activity, you can make your heart stronger. A stronger heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases and your blood pressure lowers.
Whether you walk around the blood or around town, taking a regular walk or engaging in some other kind of regular exercise can help reduce stress and ensure adequate circulation throughout your body.
High blood pressure develops when the amount of blood that is pumped through the arteries can’t do so easily.
The pressure on the artery walls causes us to get sick. If you improve your circulation, you’ll not only reduce your risk of high blood pressure, but you can also lower it.
3) Eat a healthy diet
According to health guidelines, eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat ad cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg.
Another tip is to consider boosting potassium. Potassium can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Potassium is high in foods such as fruits and vegetables.
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4) Limit your alcohol you drink
According to Mayo Clinic, “repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases. ”
Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. In small amounts, it can lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm Hg.
But that effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol – more than one drink a day for women and two a day for men.
5) Breathe Deeply
Slow breathing and meditative practices have been shown to decrease stress. Stress elevates renin, a kidney enzyme that raises blood pressure.
You could do this for 5 minutes in the morning and at night. Simply inhale deeply and expand your stomach. Exhale and release all your tension.
Here’s how to do deep breathing:
1) Breathe in slowly and deeply, while focusing on your stomach going up and down.
2) Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
3) Exhale, thinking about how relaxing it is, for 6 seconds.
4) Repeat this sequence 5 to 10 times, focusing on breathing slowly and deeply.
This a great way to reduce stress, and you can do it for as long as you like. The other benefit is that you can do it wherever you like.
6) Don’t have too much salt
Too much sodium in your diet can increase blood pressure.
“There is a fairly undisputed effect of sodium on blood pressure,” says Nancy Cook, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
How much salt per day should you consume?
“Getting down to the 2,300-mg-a-day mark would be beneficial. The average person consumes about 3,600 mg a day. So, this would mean cutting out about a third of the salt for most people,” says Cook.
7) Eat dark chocolate
Yep, you heard that one right. Dark chocolate contains flavanols which make blood vessels more flexible (increasing the chance of lowering blood pressure).
In a study, participants who ate dark chocolate every day saw blood pressure decrease. Have half an ounce daily and make sure it contains 70% cocoa.
8) Switch to decaf coffee
This one is up for debate. Some studies have shown that caffeine has no effect on blood pressure.
However, one study found that three cups of coffee increased blood pressure by 4 mmhg and that effect lasted until bedtime.
According to the lead researcher of the study: “When you’re under stress, your heart starts pumping a lot more blood, boosting blood pressure…And caffeine exaggerates that effect.”
9) Work less
According to the University of California, putting in more than 41 hours per week raises your risk of hypertension by 15%.
Working too hard can make it hard to find time for exercise and healthy eating, so make sure you try to finish work at a decent time.
10) Crank your chill out music
Yep, research has found that the right tunes can help you lower blood pressure. So when you’ve got some time alone, turn up the volume and let the music do its thing.
According to one study:
“Compared to those who did not receive music therapy, those who did receive music therapy had a significantly greater decrease in SBP (systolic blood pressure) before and after.”
11) Give up cigarettes
Cigarettes are bad, mmmk? If you are still smoking, it’s time to consider quitting.
While smoking has been proven to be a risk factor for heart attack and stroke, its connection to high blood pressure is yet determined.
However, smoking increases the risk for the buildup of fatty substances inside the arteries – a process that high blood pressure is known to accelerate.
And while smoking, blood pressure does increase.
This isn’t about shaming people into giving up bad habits, it’s about recognizing how those bad habits are impacting your overall health and wellness.
Every time you smoke a cigarette, you might feel stress relief, but there is evidence to suggest that you are increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke by directly increasing your blood pressure.
12) Eat more bananas
Diets rich in potassium are less likely to develop heart conditions. Potassium is good for your heart and promotes circulation.
Evidence suggests that boosting potassium intake to the recommended daily levels is associated with a decrease in blood pressure. However, this effect has only been found for people with high blood pressure.
Because blood pressure is a pressure and circulation problem that is reversible, eating more bananas or other foods that are high in potassium can help you lower your blood pressure or keep high blood pressure at bay.
13) Enjoy some cocoa
With all this talk about eating healthy and taking care of yourself, it might seem like bad advice to tell you to eat some dark chocolate or high-percentage cocoa, but there is evidence to suggest that eating small amounts of dark chocolate can help lower your blood pressure.
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and that can help reduce your risk. But don’t overdo it – it’s still chocolate.
14) Increase calcium intake
Calcium helps to keep your body strong and ready to fight off disease.
While it’s more difficult for adults to get their recommended calcium intake on a daily basis, taking vitamins can help supplement those gaps in your diet.
An increase in calcium intake slightly reduces both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in normotensive people, particularly in young people, suggesting a role in the prevention of hypertension
15) Eat more berries
Like dark chocolate, berries contain antioxidants that help to produce heart-healthy antibodies in your body.
When you eat berries, you’ll not only feel better, but your skin might also improve: berries are great to help with circulation and to lower your blood pressure.
One study found that consuming these compounds might prevent hypertension and help lower blood pressure.
If you can’t do all of these things to improve your blood pressure, then try doing just one or two to start.
You’ll be amazed at how cutting salt or increasing your activity level can improve your health.
Anything is better than nothing when it comes to improving your health. You don’t have to go all in on a crazy workout regime to see results.
Just try leaving the sugar out of your coffee, cutting back to one or two cups of coffee a day, and leaving the salt off your fries at dinner and you’ll be doing your body a good service.
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