Certain groups of people—the elderly, African Americans, and those with a family history of high blood pressure—are more likely than others to have blood pressure that's particularly salt-sensitive. But because there's no way to tell whether any one individual is at risk, everyone should consume less sodium, says Eva Obarzanek, PhD, a research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Your mother’s situation does sound worrisome, as you are describing falls and also some concerns with thinking. Her age of 96 is pretty old, so clinical research studies don’t provide much guidance on what is optimal blood pressure. Unless she has compelling medical reasons to aim for a SBP of 120, most geriatricians would probably reduce her BP meds and try to aim for a SBP in the 130s or 140s. So you may want to ask your mother’s doctor to discuss with you what is a suitable BP goal for her, and whether a reduction in BP meds might be reasonable.
I have been doing a search to find information I can trust about my high BP, and I am so glad I found you! Your information and links to more have answered my questions, hardly addressed by my doctors and pharmacists. I am an 87-year-old female in generally excellent health, eating properly and on the move. I get moderate exercise and have just now started a program with a trainer–paid for by my Medicare provider! I don’t want to lose strength or the ability to teach, write, and get around.
Note: The fasting and high blood pressure study described in this article was funded in part by a grant from the National Health Association. It was conducted at the Center for Conservative Therapy in Penngrove, California. The results appeared in the article, “Medically Supervised Water-Only Fasting in the Treatment of Hypertension,” published in June 2001 in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
Diabetics often have lower recommendations for blood pressure, the maximum normal value being seen as 130/80-85. However, it’s questionable whether it’s a good idea to medicate your blood pressure levels down to those values. Diabetics can probably stick to approximately the same upper limit as people with heart disease: 140/90 (according to new studies and expert comments, as well as the latest recommendations from the American Diabetes Association, ADA).
While most Americans with hypertension are treated primarily with drugs, “these drugs do not come close to eliminating all the cardiovascular ills associated with the typical American diet and sedentary lifestyle,” observes Danine Fruge, MD, Medical Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami. Over the last four decades, the Center has helped thousands worldwide lower blood pressure naturally and significantly reduce many cardiovascular risks.
Visit the zoo: Viewing and being around animals can be very therapeutic, having a positive effect on blood pressure levels. A study in Japan found that when people visited a zoo, their systolic blood pressure dropped by six percent and their diastolic blood pressure dropped by eight percent. It is thought that observing animals simulated the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces blood pressure to help counteract stress-induced adrenaline spikes.
Re BP: as noted in the article above, several expert groups recommend treating adults aged 60+ to a goal of SBP less than 150. So if you find that your SBP is often in the 150s or higher, then it would be reasonable to consider a medication to lower BP, especially since it sounds like you’ve been trying lifestyle treatments but your BP is still not low enough.
Visit the zoo: Viewing and being around animals can be very therapeutic, having a positive effect on blood pressure levels. A study in Japan found that when people visited a zoo, their systolic blood pressure dropped by six percent and their diastolic blood pressure dropped by eight percent. It is thought that observing animals simulated the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces blood pressure to help counteract stress-induced adrenaline spikes.
High blood pressure used to be a disease that affected only the older population, but now more than one-third of young people between the ages of 16 to 34 suffer from it as well. This has made finding a solution all the more important, with most medical professionals simply relying on pharmaceutical medication to help alleviate this situation (this may introduce more problems and complications, so be careful). Choosing to eat more foods and herbs that naturally lower blood pressure can help mitigate the use of potentially harmful drugs if used correctly. The following are some natural and quick remedies that can help regulate blood pressure:
There are many popular medical myths about high blood pressure. For example, many physicians believe that high blood pressure is an “inevitable consequence of aging;” that the “only viable treatment option for high blood pressure patients is medication”; that high blood pressure patients must take their medications “for the rest of their lives”; and, worst of all, that high blood pressure medications are “safe and effective.”
Dr. Palanismy notes that a particular form of stress reduction called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction has been proven in research studies to reduce blood pressure. This approach to stress reduction uses meditation, body awareness and movement such as yoga to help people better observe their experiences, instead of being completely immersed in them. This helps them take a step back in stressful situations.

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.
“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.”
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.
4. Reduce intake of caffeine: In case you constantly need stimulants like tea or coffee to get you through the day, you definitely need to check your health. Moreover, caffeine can cause short-term spike on your blood pressure. Read here to know how many cups of tea or coffee you should have in a day in order to keep your blood pressure under control.
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.

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).
And I am 67 and am on HCTZ25mg (I retain a lot of water) and Losartan 75mg which causes leg cramps but I think I am experiencing angina – not always; it goes away after the initial pain – now I’m worried – yes I could lose weight but do not smoke(17yrs ago) or drink(used to then stopped now for a number of years). What’s are next move. Iam adopted so I can’t look to my Mom for any genetics…Thank you, Laurie
Many factors can cause your blood pressure to rise, and each factor may or may not require medication. Many people make lifestyle changes that lower their blood pressure without medication; especially for pre-hypertension and stage 1 of hypertension. Also, each time you take your blood pressure, make sure you are still and calm, sitting with both feet on the floor, arm supported on a flat surface, and you are measuring at the same time everyday. You can also take multiple readings in one sitting, but wait one minute between each reading. These steps will ensure you are providing your healthcare provider with the most accurate blood pressure reading!
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Ask your doctor if low-fat or nonfat milk is better than whole milk for you. Whole milk can lower blood pressure better than low-fat or nonfat milk, but there may also be risks. Whole milk contains Palmitic acid, which, according to some studies, can block internal signals responsible for relaxing blood vessels. As a result, your blood vessels stay constricted and your blood pressure remains high.[7]
Reduce the stress in your life. Long-term stress can lead to high blood pressure. There are small lifestyle changes you can make to both combat stress and to manage the effects of it in healthy ways. Exercise, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, practicing yoga, meditation, or deep breathing, meditating, praying, journaling, laughing, listening to music, spending time with family and friends, and playing with animals can all help reduce your stress and lower blood pressure. Learn about more tips for reducing stress.
“We have many people with hypertension who come to Pritikin,” says Pritikin’s Associate Medical Director Danine Fruge, MD, “and within three days, many have blood pressures that have dropped so low that we need to reduce their medications or take them off their pills altogether. Yes, just three days. That’s how quickly and powerfully our bodies respond to healthy food, exercise, and other lifestyle changes.”
Some research on watermelon extract and high blood pressure suggests the amino acid citrulline found in the fruit may help manage high blood pressure. One study found those who took watermelon extract showed reduced blood pressure specifically in the ankles and arm arteries. Other studies on mice also show watermelon’s positive effect. Although more research is needed to determine the specifics, eating fruit like watermelon isn’t going to hurt.
Clinicians do sometimes prescribe still higher doses of a BP medication, especially if adding another agent doesn’t seem to be a good option. However, the BP may not improve much in response, although the risk of side-effects (such as electrolyte disturbances) usually does go up. You can ask your usual healthcare provider or a pharmacist to review potential side-effects with you, so that you’ll know what to monitor for.
A study, done in December of 2009, was published in the Indian Journal of Biochemistry & Biophysics. They gave a group of participants 1 teaspoon of cardamom powder daily for several weeks. The results showed a significant reduction in blood pressure. Combined with ginger and cinnamon, both warming spices that improve circulation, you can make a lovely tea to help your heart get healthy.
It is notable that relaxation and meditation, though useful for many purposes, have not been found to impact high blood pressure. Many people find this surprising, possibly since high blood pressure also is known as “hypertension.” Because of this potentially misleading term, many people have assumed that high levels of stress or “tension” are a major cause of “hypertension,” or high blood pressure. This is not the case. High blood pressure is an essentially mechanical, and not psychological, problem.
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