October 20, 2018
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure is commonly treated using medications like beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and ACE inhibitors. But if you want to control your blood pressure without using medication, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to help lower your blood pressure naturally.
Here are 7 proven ways to lower high blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart disease.
1. Lose Excess Weight
Being overweight or obese increases the risk for high blood pressure since the heart is being forced to work harder at pumping and circulating extra blood throughout the body. Losing as few as 10 pounds can significantly improve blood pressure — especially in those who are overweight and already suffering from hypertension. Improve your nutrition and start exercising regularly to lose excess weight, or work with your doctor on developing a personalized weight-loss plan.
2. Stay Physically Active
Regular exercise improves the functioning and elasticity of blood vessels and reduces blood pressure by between 5 and 8 mmHg. Just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week can help regulate and improve blood pressure. Start engaging in moderate-level exercises such as brisk walking or swimming. Get busy doing those common household chores such as gardening, raking leaves, or shoveling snow.
3. Improve Your Diet
Foods high in salt and sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, as well as foods that are high in fat and cholesterol. Making healthy improvements to your diet can naturally lower blood pressure while also boosting energy, weight loss, and your overall health. Reduce your intake of red meats, sugary beverages, sweets, and processed foods. Start eating higher amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, and low-fat dairy.
4. Reduce Alcohol Intake
People who drink alcohol regularly are 16% more likely to suffer high blood pressure than their non-drinking counterparts. Additionally, a person’s blood pressure will increase by 1 mmHg for every 10 g of alcohol consumed — however, this may be reversed by significantly reducing alcohol intake or abstaining for between 2 and 4 weeks. If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man to reduce high blood pressure.
5. Stop Smoking
Nicotine in cigarettes increases heart rate and blood pressure to put you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. Quit smoking as soon as possible. You will reduce your risk for these life-threatening events and live a longer, healthier life. If you are struggling with quitting, talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs that can help you kick your habit for good.
6. Manage Stress
Stress temporarily increases the body’s production of adrenaline and cortisol, but chronic stress can lead to sustained elevated levels of these hormones — leading to permanent spikes in heart rate and blood pressure. Work on managing and reducing your stress by taking more time to relax and enjoy your favorite activities or by eliminating certain stressors from your life. Yoga, deep breathing, regular exercise, meditation, and practicing mindfulness are other effective ways to reduce stress and lower blood pressure.
7. Cut Back on Caffeine
Those who drink around 5 cups of coffee per day generally experience an elevation in blood pressure of 2/1 mmHg when compared to non-coffee or decaffeinated coffee drinkers. Caffeine is also shown to spike cortisol levels and increase blood pressure in people at rest or who are suffering from mental stress. Try cutting way back on your daily caffeine intake to normalize your blood pressure — especially if you also suffer from chronic stress.
Healthcare Associates of Texas is home to a cardiology team that provides diagnostic and treatment support for all areas of heart health. Request an appointment today to learn more about our cardiovascular and hypertension treatments so you can benefit from a reduced risk for heart disease and related medical conditions.