Being diagnosed with high blood pressure can be scary. Many individuals worry about the effects high blood pressure will have on their bodies and if they will have to rely on blood pressure lowering medication for the rest of their lives. High blood pressure is a preventable disease, and there are ways to help lower blood pressure naturally. Even if you have been prescribed medication, you can make lifestyle changes that can work with the medication to lower your blood pressure significantly. Many individuals who make these changes find that they can eventually come off of blood pressure lowering medication altogether.
1. Lose Excess Weight
This is an indirect correlation between excess weight gain and an increase in blood pressure. By taking the steps necessary to lose weight, you can help lower your blood pressure naturally. Even a small weight loss of only 5 to 10 pounds can have a positive effect on your overall numbers. As you continue to lose weight, you can expect to see your blood pressure continue to drop. There is some evidence that blood pressure lowering medication works even better when you lose weight, making this step one of the most important you can take to fight high blood pressure.
2. Get Active
A sedentary lifestyle plays a big role in the onset of high blood pressure. Incorporating an exercise routine into your daily life is a great way to get active. When you exercise, your heart becomes more efficient at utilizing oxygen and uses less energy to pump blood. When your heart isn’t struggling to pump blood, it can result in lower blood pressure. After just a few weeks of exercise you can expect to see your numbers drop. As with any medical condition, individuals with high blood pressure should speak with their physician before starting any exercise program.
3. Eat Healthy Foods
Eliminate unhealthy fats and high cholesterol foods from your diet to improve your overall heart health. Not only will eating healthy foods help to lose weight, but certain healthy foods can also target high blood pressure. Eat foods that directly impact high blood pressure, such as whole grains, low-fat dairy products and fresh fruits and vegetables. Known as the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), these foods are low in sodium and easy on the waistline. Foods that are high in potassium, such as bananas, cantaloupes, avocadoes and baked potatoes, help to rid the body of sodium with their diuretic effect.
4. Reduce Sodium
There are dozens of seemingly healthy foods that are actually hidden sources of sodium. And most people are unaware of just how much sodium is in the foods we eat. One teaspoon of salt contains a whopping 2,400 mg of sodium. When attempting to lower high blood pressure, it is important to pay attention to the sodium levels in everything you eat. Always check food labels. Prepare meals with salt-free seasonings and purchase reduced-sodium packaged foods. Reducing your sodium intake by just a small amount can significantly lower your blood pressure.
5. Limit Alcohol
There are differing opinions on the effect of alcohol on blood pressure and overall health in general. While some research suggests that complete avoidance is the way to go, there are numerous studies that suggest that mild to moderate consumption can have a positive effect on heart health and possibly lower blood pressure. Regardless of which side of the coin you are on, the overall message is that if you’re going to drink, do so in moderation. Consuming too much alcohol will have a negative impact on your blood pressure, not to mention your liver and your health in general. If you do not normally consume alcohol, so not start now in an attempt to lower your blood pressure. If you do drink, make sure you limit your consumption to no more than 1 drink per day for women, 2 for men.
6. Quit Smoking
Vitrually everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health. Though most commonly known for the negative effects smoking has on the lungs, smoking also has a negative impact on blood pressure. The nicotine found in tobacco can elevate your blood pressure immediately after smoking, with the effect lasting for up to an hour. Given that many people who smoke do so at least once per hour, it stands to reason that you blood pressure will remain elevated throughout the day. Whether you need to stop cold turkey, wean off slowly or enlist the help of smoking cessation aids, find a method that works for you and quit altogether.
7. Reduce Caffeine Intake
This is another topic that is up for debate. Some studies suggest that caffeine has no effect on blood pressure. Still, other research suggests that caffeine intake is associated with increased incidence of high blood pressure in individuals who consume more that 2 cups per day. The theory is that caffeine tightens the blood vessels, which elevates stress levels and send blood pressure skyrocketing over time. This doesn’t mean you have to give up coffee, just that you should consider replacing coffee and any other caffeinated beverages for their non-caffeinated counterparts.
There are many different types of meditation. When it comes to lowering blood pressure, it doesn’t matter which type you choose. The main goal is to engage in deep breathing exercises that reduce stress and invoke an overall calming effect on the body. Stress hormones are linked to a raise in blood pressure. Lowering those hormone levels is a key factor in lowering blood pressure along with it. Deep breathing exercises help to release tension in the muscles, reduce negative thoughts and emotions and calm both the mind and body. All of this is believed to have a positive effect on high blood pressure.
9. Schedule Regular Check-Ups
Monitoring your blood pressure at home, though important, does not replace the need for regular physical exams. During regular check-ups, your doctor will continue to monitor your blood pressure and answer any questions you may have. He or she will discuss your lifestyle changes and help determine what techniques are working and what may need to be modified to improve results. If you are taking blood pressure lowering medication, the dosage may need to be lowered as you incorporate healthy lifestyle changes that help bring your level down.
10. Listen to Classical Music
Similar to meditation, listening to classical music can have a calming effect that can help to lower high blood pressure. Classical music can help ease tension and reduce stress. Classical music can be used alone or combined with meditation and deep breathing techniques. Try listening to a classical music CD when commuting to and from work or when trying to unwind before bed.