How To Lower Blood Pressure in 9 Ways

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How to lower blood pressure - measuring blood pressure
Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Saturday January 6, 2024

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Blood pressure refers to the measure of the force the heart uses to pump blood throughout the body. It has two types of measurements — systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Blood pressure uses millimeters of mercury (mmHg) as a unit.

Normal vs. High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is categorized into three levels — low, normal and high. 

  • Normal blood pressure is between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg 
  • Low blood pressure is below 90/60 mmHg
  • High blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or higher

Knowing your blood pressure is essential as it tells your risk for certain diseases and organ damage. For instance, a consistently above-normal blood pressure may lead to a diagnosis of high blood pressure or hypertension. This condition increases the incidence of heart disease and stroke. Similarly, a low blood pressure reading can indicate different conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or irregular heart rhythms. A normal blood pressure is crucial to live a healthy life. 

What Factors Lead to High Blood Pressure

Globally, 1.28 billion individuals aged 30-79 years are diagnosed with hypertension. It’s a prevalent health condition, yet about 46% of people are unaware they have it. So, what factors contribute to high blood pressure? Here are some of them. 

  • Older age: Like other parts of the body, the network of blood vessels changes with age. The arteries where the blood flows may become stiffer, leading to rising blood pressure. 
  • Genetics: The risk is higher for people with it in their family.
  • Excess weight or obesity: Obesity — which is often associated with an unhealthy diet — is a prevalent risk factor for heart disease.
  • Lack of movement: A sedentary lifestyle can result in the hardening of arteries and accumulation of plaque in the blood passageway, increasing high blood pressure.
  • High-salt diet: Eating salty foods makes your body retain an unnecessary amount of water. The extra water in the blood can escalate the blood pressure.
  • Excessive alcohol drinking: Alcohol elevates the amount of renin in the body. It’s a hormone that constricts blood vessels, consequently increasing blood pressure.

How To Lower Blood Pressure

Here are some practical strategies to normalize blood pressure if you have elevated levels most of the time. 

1. Lose Extra Pounds

Blood pressure and weight have a bidirectional relationship. When your weight increases, so is your blood pressure. Maintain a healthy body-mass index by watching what you eat or cutting down on your meals, incorporating exercise into your routine and improving your lifestyle.

2. Eat a Healthy Diet

Be conscious of your food choices. Prioritize fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Stick to fruits like watermelon, bananas, berries and kiwis. Based on a study, watermelon juice reduced systolic blood pressure over two hours in healthy adults. Two popular diet patterns that help hypertension are the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. 

3. Exercise Regularly

Introduce physical exercise to have a movement in your life. Whether it’s simply walking, hiking or personalized training through a coach, regular fitness activities can do wonders for your health, including your blood pressure. In one study, swimmer participants who swam for 12 weeks and worked their way up to 45 minutes of swimming workout lowered their systolic blood pressure by an average of nine points.

Constant movement can keep your weight at an ideal limit, make you feel good and help you minimize the risk of hypertension.

4. Lower Salt Content in Your Food

The FDA recommends limiting salt intake below 2,300 mg daily or about a teaspoon. Ideally, you’d want to aim for only about 1,500 mg daily. Cut back on salt from your meals to maintain a healthy blood pressure. It’s best if you cook and prepare your own food as you can reduce the amount of sodium. Alternatively,  stuff yourself up on potassium. It’s a mineral that blunts the effect of salt and aids you in controlling blood pressure. 

5. Get Adequate Sleep

The lack of sleep has been associated with several health irregularities, including hypertension. Experts advise to get 7–8 hours of sleep for optimal health. Try to develop a routine and atmosphere conducive to rest. Stick to a sleep schedule. Don’t eat or drink any stimulant like coffee before bed.

6. Cap Alcohol Intake

Drinking alcohol can narrow the blood vessels and increase your likelihood of developing hypertension. Women can drink one glass or less of a 12-ounce alcoholic beverage with 5% alcohol. Men should cap their alcohol to two drinks or less. Excessive alcohol intake has been linked to many severe illnesses, so it’s best to moderate its quantity. 

7. Quit Smoking

One study found that heavy smokers elevated their hypertension risk by 50%. Meanwhile, a pattern of both heavy smoking and heavy drinking shoots up the risk of hypertension by 158%. 

Smoking is bad for health and is linked to many severe illnesses, including heart disease and lung cancer. If this is part of your lifestyle, find ways to quit. You can consult a therapist to help you change your behavior patterns around using tobacco or any smoking products.

8. Reduce Stress

Stress can also trigger your blood pressure to rise. When under pressure, the body releases hormones that can cause symptoms like a rapid heart rate and narrowing of blood vessels. While there’s no concrete evidence stress can lead to a long-term increase in blood pressure, it’s best to learn stress management skills to prevent adverse outcomes. 

9. Learn to Monitor Blood Pressure at Home

By teaching yourself to monitor blood pressure at home, you can track your health progress. Blood pressure monitoring devices are easily accessible. Receive training or talk to your doctor about how to use them. 

Follow a Healthy Lifestyle To Lower Blood Pressure

A positive lifestyle is essential to making strides in your health goals. Remember to choose what you eat and drink, exercise, get enough sleep and quit smoking. Enlist a professional’s help if you’re having challenges tweaking your habits. Finally, visit your doctor for regular blood pressure monitoring. Hypertension is easily manageable if you follow the suggestions here.

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