Written by:Eli Ben-Yehuda, July 22, 2018

Chronic high blood pressure — higher than 130/80 — takes a toll on your arteries, heart, kidneys, and brain. Lower it, and you reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Many cardiologists are realizing that the best defense may not be medication in most cases. Cardiologists say it can absolutely be done without the help of medication. In fact, lifestyle changes are the first approach they often try in patients with hypertension. So what are the best ways to lower your blood pressure without pills?

According to Dr. Ron Blankstein, a preventive cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and a member of the American College of Cardiology’s Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Section Leadership Council.

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And also Dr. Jennifer Haythe, an assistant professor of medicine and co-director of the Women’s Center for Cardiovascular Health at the Columbia University Medical Center. They recommend the following tips to effectively lower your blood pressure.

7 Proven Ways Lower High Blood Pressure
Lose Those Extra Pounds

Losing even a few pounds may make a difference Maintaining a healthy weight provides many health benefits. If you are overweight, losing as little as five to 10 pounds may help lower your blood pressure.

A few great reasons to manage your weight:

Being overweight puts you at greater risk of developing health problems.

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A little weight loss can bring a lot of health gains.

Did you know you might experience health benefits from losing as few as 10 pounds? Even a small weight loss can help manage or prevent high blood pressure in many overweight people (those with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater). Weight loss reduces the strain on your heart.

Being overweight puts extra strain on your heart, increasing the risk of developing high blood pressure and damage to your blood vessels that can lead to serious health threats.

Increase The Proper Nutrition

There’s good evidence plant-based diets high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes will lead to lower blood pressure and weight loss, Blankstein noted. You’ll also naturally get more potassium, which is associated with lower blood pressure.

At the same time, banish processed foods.

“You have to stick to real foods, which are foods that haven’t been taken by a company and processed and put in a box or plastic bag,” Haythe said.

Bottom line: Your weight and eating style should be at the core of your strategy.

“The combination of weight loss and diet together is incredibly powerful for lowering blood pressure. I have patients who have had enormous success doing that,” Blankstein said.

Reduce Salt Intake

We need sodium to live, but too much salt leads the body to hold on to more fluids and that causes volume changes inside blood vessels. Over time, blood pressure rises.

“The problem is, salt is everywhere,” Haythe noted.

“It’s not just the salt that you add with the shaker,” Blankstein added. “Most of the sodium we get in our diet is found in various processed foods — things like canned soups, chips, cold cuts, pickles and even bread.”

He recommended consuming less than 2 grams (2,000 mg) of salt — or less than one teaspoon — a day for people who are trying to lower their blood pressure. That can be very effective, he said.

Get Off The Couch

Exercise improves circulation and cardiac output, and has a dilating effect on your blood vessels, Haythe said. It raises blood pressure at the moment, but in an appropriate way, both doctors noted. Long-term, exercise actually lowers your resting blood pressure.

“Our blood vessels learn to relax when we’re not exercising. So the benefits with exercise are not necessarily at the time of exercise, but in general afterward,” Blankstein said.

Why your doctor should measure blood pressure in both arms He advised cardio over weightlifting and considered the general recommendation of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, five times a week, to be “the absolute minimum.” An hour of exercise a day on most days of the week is better.

Squeezing in a workout, but then just sitting the rest of the day is still not enough activity: Regularly get up and move, Blankstein said. He recommended aiming for 10,000 steps a day.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension), your doctor may advise you to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.

Preventing high blood pressure:

Limiting alcohol consumption can also help to prevent high blood pressure.

If you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women. A drink is one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits.

I’ve read that red wine is heart healthy — can I drink as much as I’d like? Unfortunately, red wine as a miracle drink for heart health is a myth. The linkage reported in many of these studies may be due to other lifestyle factors rather than alcohol. Like any other dietary or lifestyle choice, it’s a matter of moderation.

Stress Management

When it comes to preventing and treating high blood pressure, one often-overlooked strategy is managing stress. If you often find yourself tense and on-edge, try these seven ways to reduce stress.

 

  • Get enough sleep. Inadequate or poor-quality sleep can negatively affect your mood, mental alertness, energy level, and physical health.
  • Learn relaxation techniques. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and yoga are powerful relaxation techniques and stress-busters.
  • Strengthen your social network. Connect with others by taking a class, joining an organization, or participating in a support group.
  • Hone your time-management skills. The more efficiently you can juggle work and family demands, the lower your stress level.
  • Try to resolve stressful situations if you can. Don’t let stressful situations fester. Hold family problem-solving sessions and use negotiation skills at home and at work.
  • Nurture yourself. Treat yourself to a message. Truly savor an experience: for example, eat slowly and really focus on the taste and sensations of each bite. Take a walk or a nap, or listen to your favorite music.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your spouse, friends, and neighbors. If stress and anxiety persist, talk to your doctor.

 

Add Supplements To Your Diet

Beyond changing your diet to minimize exposure to foods that increase blood pressure and emphasizing foods that reduce blood pressure, a number of nutritional supplements have been confidently demonstrated to reduce blood pressure. Several supplements, including vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, and anthocyanins, correct inadequate intakes of these nutrients that commonly occur with modern lifestyles.

Restoring them allows us to mimic the nutrient intakes of traditional cultures. Other supplements exert unique blood pressure-reducing effects independent of correcting nutritional deficiencies.

With so many ways to lower your blood pressure, you have many ways to help yourself. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure speak with your physician about implementing these into your regimen. From my own experience I know adding these really helped me. They will also help you.

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