High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects around 75 million Americans (around 1 out of every 3 adults). And many of them don’t even know it. This is why high blood pressure is known as the “silent killer”. It does not always cause any obvious signs and symptoms. However, it can cause fatal instances of heart attacks and strokes if left untreated. There are a wide variety of blood pressure medications available on the market. And there are also a number of ways that you can treat lower blood pressure naturally.
Are you using activity as a means of lowering your blood pressure? Then you should be aiming for around 30 minutes of exercise most days. For example, regular aerobics has been shown in several studies to lower systolic blood pressure by 3-5 points and diastolic blood pressure by 2-3 points; while this doesn’t sound like much, this reduction can have a significant effect on a person’s health.
It is a good idea to choose a few different exercises – such as walking in the park and Zumba dancing — that you enjoy and “mix and match” them throughout the week. This keeps things interesting for you and makes it more likely that you will do them on a regular basis.
Long working hours, busy commutes, and the stress of maintaining a work-life balance can take its toll on your emotional life – and your physical one. Feelings of worry and anxiety can contribute to high blood pressure levels as well as disturbing sleep and eating habits, which can also make the problem worse.
The good news is that there are many ways to learn how to cope with stress in daily life, from meditation and prayer, to practices like yoga and tai chi, deep breathing techniques and creative visualization can make it easier to cope with the stressors of everyday life.
With 2 out of every 3 Americans either obese or overweight, it is not surprising that high blood pressure is so common: extra weight puts extra stress on the heart, which in turn can raise blood pressure levels. The good news is, however, that weight loss can help: even the loss of 5-10% of a person’s body weight can significantly reduce blood pressure problems.
Keep in mind that the most effective weight loss is gradual, with no more than a loss of 1-2 pounds a week. This might not feel like a lot at first, but it will add up over time and help you improve not only your blood pressure but your general health.
Giving Up Alcohol, Tobacco, and Caffeine
While small amounts of alcohol – especially red wine – have been shown to be good for heart health, excessive alcohol use can cause a spike in blood pressure (along with other health problems such as liver damage). Keeping your alcohol consumption to one drink a day if you’re a woman and two if you’re a man is a good idea if you have hypertension.
Tobacco use also spikes up blood pressure levels and so does caffeine. If you are having high blood pressure, limit your intake of caffeine to around 200mg a day (which is the equivalent of a cup or two daily) and give up tobacco altogether.
Your dietary choices can make a big difference in how well you manage your blood pressure. To do this, you want to avoid foods that are high in salt (sodium will spike up your blood pressure) and foods that are high in saturated fats and calories, as these often contribute to weight gain.
On the other hand, there are dietary choices you can make that can positively contribute to your efforts to normalize your blood pressure: foods that are rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium can all support healthy blood pressure levels. Examples of these foods include fruits like peaches, bananas and nectarines, vegetables like kale, broccoli and red bell pepper and grains like quinoa.
Herbal supplements can also help to lower blood pressure and often do not have the unwanted side effects that come with many prescription blood pressure pills. However, it is very important to talk to a naturopathic doctor or similar professional to find out about what kind of supplement is right for your particular needs. It is also important to let your clinician know what pills and supplements you are already on, so they can prescribe something that will not interact with what you are currently taking.
Herbs that clinical studies have found to help with this problem include basic, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, hawthorn, celery seed and cat’s claw.
It is important to understand that few or any of these treatments will work overnight. However, with time and regular practice, they can in combination make a significant difference in your blood pressure and improve cardiac health.