If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may be worried about needing to take medications to lower your blood pressure. The increased force of your blood pumping through your
However, there are several ways you can tweak your lifestyle to treat elevated blood pressure. These methods can be as effective, if not more so, than pills.
1. Shrink your waistline
Shedding centimetres from your waist is the most effective way to lower high blood pressure. Even incremental amounts will make a difference. With each kilogram lost accounting for about a 1 mm Hg reduction in blood pressure.
Guidelines indicate women are at risk if their waistline is above 98 cm, and for men, waistlines above 102 cm.
2. Reduce your sodium intake
Sacks et al. (2001) showed that reduced dietary sodium decreased blood pressure significantly. Even greater reductions were seen when combined with the DASH - Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension - diet.
The DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, and only small amounts of red meat, sweets, and sugary drinks. High amounts of sodium are commonly hidden in bread, cured meats, sandwiches, soup, poultry, and pizza.
Sodium restriction is particularly effective amongst people with higher blood pressure, and with increased age.
3. Increase your potassium intake
Potassium can counteract the effect of sodium on blood pressure. Naturally increase potassium through your diet by adding dried apricots, soybeans, spinach, bananas, avocados and white button mushrooms.
4. Limit your alcohol
In moderation, alcohol can help lower your blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg. This means one drink per day for women or two per day for men.
At higher levels, alcohol becomes more harmful than beneficial. Instead, it may increase your blood pressure.
5. Exercise regularly
Get moving in a way that you enjoy, whether that is brisk walking, swimming or tennis. Even cleaning the house or gardening can add to your exercise tally. Aim for 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
Studies have shown high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and resistance training may also help in lowering elevated blood pressure.
The Silent Killer
High blood pressure is considered an "old person's condition".
High blood pressure (when your blood pumps too forcefully through your veins) is often called a silent killer. That’s because most people who have it don’t have symptoms, even though the disorder is damaging the heart, kidneys, blood vessels and brain.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine
Younger women and men are less likely to be diagnosed. And only 7% of women aged 20-34 are diagnosed with high blood pressure. When left untreated, it increases the risk of strokes and heart disease later in life.
Make sure you get your blood pressure checked once every one to two years. Normal blood pressure is defined as 120/80 mm Hg, above 130/80 mm Hg as elevated blood pressure, and above 140/90 mm Hg as hypertension.
A single elevated measurement may not necessarily indicate a problem. Your doctor or healthcare provider will assess your blood pressure over several days or weeks before making a diagnosis.
Check out these everyday tips from Mayo Clinic that can help you lower your blood pressure.
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- Appel, L. J., Moore, T. J., Obarzanek, E., Vollmer, W. M., Svetkey, L. P., Sacks, F. M., ... & Lin, P. H. (1997). A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. New England journal of medicine, 336(16), 1117-1124.
- Cornelissen, V. A., & Fagard, R. H. (2005). Effect of resistance training on resting blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
- Grace, F., Herbert, P., Elliott, A. D., Richards, J., Beaumont, A., & Sculthorpe, N. F. (2018). High intensity interval training (HIIT) improves resting blood pressure, metabolic (MET) capacity and heart rate reserve without compromising cardiac function in sedentary aging men. Experimental gerontology, 109, 75-81.
- Grobbee, D. E., & Hofman, A. (1986). Does sodium restriction lower blood pressure?. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed), 293(6538), 27-29.
- Harvard Women's Health Watch (2018). 6 simple tips to reduce your blood pressure. Harvard Health Publishing. Sourced From: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/6-simple-tips-to-reduce-your-blood-pressure
- Health (2020). 5 Health Problems You're Actually Not Too Young For. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Sourced From: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-health-problems-youre-actually-not-too-young-for
- Mayo Clinic Staff (2019). 10 way to control high blood pressure without medication. Mayo Clinic. Sourced From: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20046974
- Queensland Health (2017). Are you a Queenslander in your 20s? Here are the health issues to have on your radar. Queensland Government. Sourced from: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/are-you-a-queenslander-in-your-20s-heres-the-health-issues-to-have-on-your-radar
- Sacks, F. M., Svetkey, L. P., Vollmer, W. M., Appel, L. J., Bray, G. A., Harsha, D., ... & Karanja, N. (2001). Effects on blood pressure of reduced dietary sodium and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. New England journal of medicine, 344(1), 3-10.