Doctor suggests six Surprising ways to lower hypertension.

Statistics show that one million Americans die of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disorders every year. Everyday a bevy of lists are published of the best things to eat, top lifestyle changes to make or medications to try. Whether simply media hype or based on sound scientific research, all are aimed at improving patient outcomes.

A list of “6 Surprising Ways to Lower Blood Pressure,” has been assembled by Dr. John Martin, medical director of the Heart and Vascular Institute at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland and founder of the Heart Health Foundation and its Dare to CARE program.

The first suggestion is to work on your marriage. Martin says that studies show that happily married adults have lower blood pressure. “There can be a world of challenges surrounding you, but if there is security and calm in your home, you have a place to rest your head and your heart.”

Next is to eat dark chocolate ― not a new point, but no list would be complete without it. Martin refers to a study where 18 percent of people who ate a 1/2 ounce of dark chocolate a day had a reduction in blood pressure. The best dark chocolate must have at least 70 percent cocoa, no candy coating, and preferably completely natural and organic.

Thirdly, Martin recommends adopting a pet, not only because it saves an animal’s life, but because studies have found that owning a pet lowers blood pressure and improves chances of survival after a heart attack. People who own pets also tend to exercise more, which is a key to lowering blood pressure.

Fourth on the list is to take the “Heart Vitamin” CoQ10. Fifth is to drink alcohol, but in moderation. Martin says that “studies show that one drink for women and two drinks for men actually lowers blood pressure 2-4 mmhg.” He cautions however that non-drinkers should not start drinking to lower their hypertension.

Number six is to do mind-body exercises such as meditation, yoga and tai chi. When a person is relaxed, the body produces more nitric oxide, which is a powerful vasodilator and lowers blood pressure.

The Dare to CARE non-profit program screens the American public for the detection of early stages of cardiovascular disease in unaware citizens. To date, the program has screened more than 40,000 patients.

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