6 Easy Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Medication
Are you worried about hypertension? Then you’re not alone. In fact, current estimates show that nearly 75 million American adults have high blood pressure. For adults, a healthy blood pressure level is below 120/80 mm Hg. Those with slightly higher numbers, between 120/80 and 139/89 mm Hg, have prehypertension and are at risk of developing hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Unfortunately, both hypertension and prehypertension can raise your risk for many health problems. You are more likely to have a stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and even heart failure. The good news is lifestyle changes, in addition to working with your doctor, can help to reduce blood pressure and promote overall heart health.
Exercise your options
Exercise on a regular basis. Try to be more active during the day, even if you're at a healthy weight. For example, pace while talking on the phone. Or play with your children instead of watching from the sidelines.
Exercise can slightly lower your blood pressure. It can also help you lose weight, even if you don't cut back on calories. People who exercise burn calories better than those who don't exercise. Working out can also set the tone for other healthy habits. People who exercise tend to eat healthier and not smoke. Good habits tend to cluster.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can help you lower your blood pressure. It doesn't call for special foods. It provides a mixture of foods rich in minerals and vitamins. It also limits the amount of saturated fats and cholesterol you eat. It’s a plan that includes a certain number of servings from a variety of food groups:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Fat-free or low-fat milk
- Whole grains
- Seeds and nuts
Eat less sodium
Limit how much salt (sodium) you get each day to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg). This can help lower systolic (first, or top number) blood pressure by up to 8 points. Sodium is a common ingredient in prepared or canned foods. Reading food labels and nutritional labels can help you keep track of how much sodium you eat each day.
Get more potassium
Adults in the U.S. don’t eat enough potassium. They should have 4,700 mg every day. But they eat about 2,000 mg less than that. Eating enough potassium is linked to lower blood pressure.
To get more potassium in your diet and cut your risk for high blood pressure, try to eat at least 2 servings daily of any of the following foods:
- 1 cup of cantaloupe (494 mg)
- 1 medium banana (450 mg)
- 8 ounces (1 cup) of orange juice (450 mg)
- About 15 raw baby carrots (420 mg)
- 8 ounces (1 cup) of skim milk (405 mg)
- 6 ounces of nonfat yogurt (390 mg)
Some salt substitutes are a mix of salt and potassium. They can be a source of extra potassium. They can also lower the sodium in your diet.
Raise your glass (in moderation)
If you drink, do so only in moderation. That means no more than 2 drinks daily if you're a man and 1 if you're a woman. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 4 or 5 ounces of wine, or a single 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor. All supply about 0.5 ounces of alcohol.
People who drink moderate amounts of alcohol tend to have better heart health than people who don’t drink. But a person who has 3 or more drinks a day often will have a rise in blood pressure. People who have a family history of drinking problems or addiction shouldn't drink at all.
Smoking only raises blood pressure when you're actually smoking. But if you smoke multiple times a day, the amount of time your blood pressure is raised because of smoking quickly adds up and becomes a chronic condition. It’s a habit that can put you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
Smoking can be very unsafe for women who take birth control pills. The pill can raise a woman’s blood pressure by 2 or 3 points no matter her age. If she already has blood pressure that is a little high, being on the pill and smoking can lead to stroke. That’s even true for women as young as age 20.
Play it safe
One of the first steps to promoting heart health is to have your blood pressure checked every time you see your doctor. Even making small changes to your everyday habits will add up in a big way for your heart.
The cardiologists of Gwinnett Medical Group can provide comprehensive care at every stage of the healing process. Whether you’re focused on prevention, diagnosis, or treatment, our experts will provide care that’s tailored to suit your heart’s needs.