According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 103 million American adults have high blood pressure — almost half of all adults in the United States.
When that many people are suffering from the same condition, it’s a problem. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when blood circulates too fast through your body and begins causing damage to your arteries. Genetics and age can play a role, but the problem is often caused, or at least exacerbated, by lifestyle issues.
At Arlington Family Practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, we see this condition all the time, and we have several recommendations for you to naturally lower your blood pressure. These methods have been proven to work over time, so give them a shot — this is our best advice, and it may allow you to delay or even avoid medication altogether.
This might just be the most effective lifestyle change you can make to lower your blood pressure. As your weight increases, your blood pressure increases, and the reverse is also true. If you’re already overweight, even losing just a small amount of weight can help. Keep an eye on your waistline as well, as too much weight around your waist can be a risk factor for high blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, regular physical exercise can lower it. And if your blood pressure is elevated, exercise can keep it from turning into hypertension. It’s important to be consistent, because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure creeps back up again. Good aerobic exercises that work for this include running, walking, biking, and swimming. You can also try strength training and high-intensity interval training.
It’s not easy to change your diet, but it’s vital if you want to lower your blood pressure. You want a diet that’s full of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Go easy on the saturated fats and cholesterol. You should also reduce your sodium intake (try herbs and spices for seasoning instead of salt) and increase your potassium. Start reading food labels, planning ahead when you eat out, and keeping track of everything you eat.
Cutting back on alcohol, smoking, and caffeine goes a long way to lowering your blood pressure as well. You can drink in moderation (usually a drink a day for women and two for men), you should quit smoking entirely (every cigarette increases your blood pressure), and you can experiment with caffeine by checking your blood pressure about 30 minutes after drinking caffeine. If you find increased levels, reduce the amount of caffeine you drink.
Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure, so work on ways to control your stress. Try to avoid your triggers, cut back on commitments, build time in your life for relaxation, and try meditation and breathing exercises.
Following the guidelines above is good for your overall health and your blood pressure specifically. You should enlist the support of your family and friends, and stay in contact with your doctor as you work through this issue. If you would like help from Dr. Ann Morvai and the team at Arlington Family Practice, just call our office or use our convenient online scheduler to book an appointment.
Lower your blood pressure — and improve your life!