2. Take the right nutrients. Talk with your chiropractor or other healthcare professional about the wide range of well-studied nutrients that, along with dietary and lifestyle modifications, can help normalize your blood pressure. One meta-analysis found magnesium supplements could lower blood pressure. Likewise, researchers find a small but significant decline in blood pressure for people with hypertension who use fish oil. (You can get all of fish oil’s benefits combined with anti-inflammatory flax oil and GLA in our Optimal Omega.)
If you’re eating more fruits and vegetables, you’re already taking a positive step toward reducing salt and enhancing potassium intake. Sodium can be found in abundance in processed foods – anything that comes in a package, can, or especially from a fast food restaurant. If you’re over 50, or at higher risk, aim for no more than 1,500 mg/day. Check your food labels for sodium content. If you see that a food has more than 400-500 mg in a serving, see if there’s a lower-sodium option.
Exercise is the soulmate to eating right. You’re more likely to lose weight if you exercise and follow a healthy diet. Official recommendations call for at least half an hour of exercise most days of the week. The effects can be dramatic: Blood pressure drops of 4 to 9 points. Remember that exercise isn’t just going to the gym. It can be gardening, washing your car, or housework. But things that get your heart rate up -- aerobic activities -- like walking, dancing, jogging, riding your bike, and swimming are best for your heart.
Elevating your feet will not lower blood pressure and will actually increase the blood pressure reading when your feet are higher than your heart. On the other hand, if you are doing activities to relieve stress such as yoga (which often elevates your legs, such as legs-up-the-wall pose), then over the long run, these stress reducing activities may help to decrease your blood pressure (but it is not the act of elevating the legs that is lowering the blood pressure it is the stress relieving activity).
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
Eat dark chocolate. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are both full of heart-healthy plant compounds called flavonoids. Flavonoids are good for you because they cause your blood vessels to dilate, which can help lower blood pressure. Just make sure your chocolate doesn’t have too much sugar. Choose chocolate that is at least 70 percent dark for best results. You can buy individually wrapped chocolate pieces that are the perfect size. Eat one or two a day and enjoy the delicious heart-protective effects.
“I always recommend that people find something that they enjoy doing to stay in shape. For example, line dancing, walking outside, and riding a bike are all good ways to get active,” says Scott Parker, a health and fitness trainer and a national spokesperson for #GoRedGetFit — an online fitness challenge for women hosted by the AHA and Macy’s. “It’s also important to find other people you like doing the activity with, because that helps you stick with it.”
Salt is everywhere, and high blood pressure (the result of too much salt in our diets) is an American epidemic. New CDC guidelines (and decades-old Pritikin guidelines) advise that most of us should eat no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day. We average 3,500 to 5,000 mg daily. Why are we so blasé about the massive doses of salt we’re consuming? How can we change?.
Swearing off cigarettes is probably the single best thing you can do for your heart. It’s good for your health in general, too. Not only does smoke hurt you over the long term, but your blood pressure goes up every time you have a cigarette. Lower your blood pressure and prolong your life by quitting. If you need help getting started, talk to your doctor.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Damage to your blood vessels occurs every time your pressure is elevated, and the new guidelines are meant to help people become more aware earlier. And through earlier awareness, it may help prevent the damage that would occur if you waited for a later diagnosis.
Some years ago I was put on medication for elevated blood pressure, as my mother before me. I took my medication and checked my values “religiously”… All of a sudden last October I developed malignant hypertension. I was hospitalized 3 times in 3 days with values over 220, then the hospital sent me to a nephrologist. He started running tests which were all normal. The hospital put me on Clonidine but the nephrologist did not add anything while running tests. In November I had to be hospitalized again. That time the ER doctor said they were not going to release me back to the same situation and added Amlodipine Besylate. My blood pressure has been normal with one brief spike since. Problem now are medication side effects: edema of feet and legs, hearing loss from fluid retention, bloating and constipation and generally not feeling well. I had always worked full time but finally retired this March. I am very disappointed to think that after working so hard for so may years I am going to feel like this in retirement due to side effects. I have talked to my nephrologist, especially a few weeks ago when I developed hearing loss from fluid retention and found that all the side effects are cumulative. He sent me an email saying we will stop the Clonidine and Amlodipine with no adjustments or anything in their place!! My pharmacist has tried to be helpful but can’t change anything. He says Amlodipine is one of the worst meds for side effects and many patients have to stop it for something else. The nephrologist does not seem to have done any research on side effects in order to suggest alternative medications, or to offer adjustments. He seems kind and listens, but offers nothing. In fact all of my medications for this condition were prescribed at the hospital. We have few geriatric doctors in this area, and no geriatric cardiologists. My regular cardiologist who just prescribed my standard meds cancelled my appointment when I developed the spikes. I already knew he was not up to challenges…I see an adult congenital cardiologist every so often even though he tells me I don’t need him as my congenital repair and heart are fine. There are not a lot of nephrologists here, but I think there is a better one in the same group so I doubt he will see me. I am really in a dilemma because I certainly cannot risk spikes, but would hope to feel better and not risk side effects such as fluid retention causing worse problems. It has also elevated my blood glucose which I watch and control through diet and exercise. The medication had my blood pressure running as low as the low 80s over low 50s, obviously too low, which is when the edema developed and I was lethargic. Now values are good. I have found little information on malignant hypertension and had never heard of it. I will greatly appreciate any suggestions. Thank you! PS I do not have a primary care doctor because so many here will not take Medicare and the “good” ones are not taking new patients or retiring. I have been looking for some time. My neurologist even had me send records to his good friend, an internal medicine specialist and they called and said he couldn’t help me….I had endocarditis at age 5 and have some medical PTSD. Sorry to write a novel, but I am thrilled there may be some help for me!
Again, foods that lower blood pressure are usually high in potassium and similar nutrients. Famously rich in blood pressure-lowering potassium, one banana contains about 420 milligrams, or 11 percent of the 4,700 milligrams the American Heart Association recommends people consume daily. Surprisingly, however, many veggies are actually higher in potassium than these popular fruits. A cup of Swiss chard boasts 960 milligrams, a cup of cooked white beans has nearly 1,200 milligrams, and a whole avocado has 975 milligrams.
There are many good options when it comes to such medication. Examples are ACE (angiotensin-converting-enzyme) inhibitors or AII-blockers (angiotensin II receptor blockers) such as Enalapril or Losartan. If this kind of medication doesn’t give the desired effect, you might have to add other medication such as so-called calcium antagonists (e.g. Felodipin) or a mild diuretic (can be found as a combined pill with Enalapril and Losartan).