Loading up on potassium-rich fruits and vegetables is an important part of any blood pressure-lowering program, says Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Potassium encourages the kidneys to excrete more sodium through urination, and that sodium excretion can help lower blood pressure.
Stress hormones constrict your blood vessels and can lead to temporary spikes in blood pressure. In addition, over time, stress can trigger unhealthy habits that put your cardiovascular health at risk. These might include overeating, poor sleep, and misusing drugs and alcohol. For all these reasons, reducing stress should be a priority if you're looking to lower your blood pressure.
People who cooked with a blend of the two oils (available at health food stores) saw a drop in blood pressure almost comparable with the decrease that results from taking medication, according to research from the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions. Researchers believe the effect is due to the oils’ fatty acids and antioxidants such as sesamin, sesamol, sesamolin, and oryzanol.
Start by eating nuts. Pistachio nuts, singled out among other nuts, seem to have the strongest effect on reducing blood pressure in adults. This is according to a recent review and scientific analysis of 21 clinical trials, all carried out between 1958 and 2013. The review appears online in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a publication of the American Society for Nutrition.
Also focus on eating nitrate and nitrite-rich vegetables (not to be confused with the other types of nitrates and nitrites that are found in processed meats) . Nitrates and nitrates from vegetables help to relax and dilate blood vessels throughout your body and increase blood flow. Although it’s a short-term effect, eating more nitrate-rich vegetables like beets, cabbage, leafy greens, and vegetable juices, can reduce blood pressure for a few hours. Recent studies have also shown that those who drank beetroot juice showed an immediate effect on lowering blood pressure. By eating plant-based foods consistently, you’ll see their regular benefits.
The heartening news is that most people can effectively control their blood pressure without the need for medications by following a healthy lifestyle like the Pritikin Program. “Those who still need medications usually require a lower dose and/or fewer drugs, thereby reducing their risk of suffering adverse side effects from the medications,” states Dr. Fruge.
If you’re interested in working with a personal trainer but are concerned about the cost, Parker notes that trainers don’t have to be expensive. Some trainers offer group sessions that are cheaper than individual training sessions. College students getting degrees in kinesiology, the study of human movement or physical activity, also train people at reduced cost.
When was the last time you thought about your blood pressure? If you're like most people, it probably hasn't been since your doctor mentioned it during your last checkup. But high blood pressure (hypertension) is a serious condition that can lead to life-threatening problems, like heart attack and stroke. The good news is that you can lower your risk of hypertension with lifestyle changes.
There are more worrisome facts about medications, notes Dr. Fruge. Drug treatment frequently has annoying and sometimes dangerous side effects, and never cures the disease. All too often, blood pressure problems grow progressively worse despite the use of medications. That’s deeply troubling because hypertension is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, and premature death.
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!
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.
Garlic: Garlic has long been thought to reduce hypertension. Studies show that garlic extract can lower blood pressure, although the optimal dose, frequency, and form are not well established. Garlic may produce this effect by acting directly on the kidneys to eliminate excess salt. It is considered a safe spice to consume, although it can cause some stomach upset.
If you are in good health and prefer to minimize your cardiovascular risk, it could be reasonable to aim for a lower BP goal, such as that in the SPRINT study. I would just encourage caution about bringing that morning reading down further. You could discuss whether diet or other lifestyle changes might help you bring down BP, and then you could also talk to your doctor about adjusting your BP medications.
While you shouldn't shrug off the change, there's also no need to panic. "Obviously, nothing happened overnight inside a woman's body or to her health with the release of the guidelines," says Dr. Naomi Fisher, director of hypertension service and hypertension innovation at the Brigham and Women's Hospital Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension, and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
It sounds to me like the cardiologist is in the process of trying to figure out what is the right dose of BP meds for her at this time, given the current state of her heart. Re the nurse’s recommendation, you may want to call back and make sure they realize that your mother’s SBP is only around 110, even off all BP meds. Ask them what they think her goal BP should be.
A study published in the Journal of Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry looked at the effect that vinegar has on blood pressure if it is introduced to your diet. The results of the research showed that consumption of acetic acid (which is found in apple cider vinegar) caused a significant reduction in hypertension (high blood pressure). The research found that the acetic acid reduced blood pressure by lowering the renin activity. Renin is an enzyme which helps regulate blood pressure. I mix 1-2 tablespoons in a glass of warm water in the morning. I have found like I like Braggs ACV with the mother.