While medication can lower blood pressure, it may cause side effects such as leg cramps, dizziness, and insomnia. The good news is that most people can bring their numbers down naturally without drugs. “Lifestyle changes are an important part of prevention and treatment of high blood pressure,” says Brandie D. Williams, MD, FACC, a cardiologist at Texas Health Stephenville and Texas Health Physicians Group.
It's time to heed your partner's complaints and get that snoring checked out. Loud, incessant snores are a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a disorder characterized by brief yet potentially life-threatening interruptions in breathing during sleep. And many sleep apnea sufferers also have high levels of aldosterone, a hormone that can boost blood pressure, according to University of Alabama researchers. In fact, it's estimated that sleep apnea affects half of people with high blood pressure.
Chronic hypertension causes the arteries throughout a patient’s body to become damaged and can lead to additional complications that may yield fatal consequences, especially when left untreated. One study noted that there is a significant increase in the risk for coronary artery disease and stroke amongst people who have elevated or high blood pressure. The study also noted that developing this condition at a younger age seems to hold an opportunity for more risks.
One notable recommendation within the new guidelines is the focus on lifestyle changes first, and medication only if necessary. Like all meds, blood pressure medications come with their side effects, so it’s always worth it to work on diet, exercise and stress management first. Even if an individual receives only partial benefits from lifestyle changes, it may still mean reduced medication usage, or one with fewer side effects if necessary. Here are a few lifestyle changes that you start today to reduce your blood pressure naturally.
Reduce your fat and sugar intake: Maintaining a healthy weight for your body type helps keep blood pressure under control. It has been proven that losing excess weight can drastically lower blood pressure values. When obesity and hypertension are coupled together, it can lead to some dangerous long-term health effects that could eventually be fatal in the long run. It is estimated that about 36.5 Americans are obese, with the consumption of excessive amounts of sugar being the main culprit. It is important to make weight loss a priority when treating your high blood pressure.
“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.”
Explore the articles below to learn more about blood pressure control and healthy living, and to start developing your own personal guide to lowering blood pressure. Even better, book a health vacation at Pritikin, recently described by The New York Times as the “granddaddy of health-based wellness spas.” Make a personal investment in what matters most – a longer life, a better life.
Fish are a great source of lean protein. Fatty fish like mackerel and salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and lower triglycerides. In addition to these fish sources, trout contains vitamin D. Foods rarely contain vitamin D, and this hormone-like vitamin has properties that can lower blood pressure.
The calculated difference between the systolic and diastolic pressures is also of interest. If the difference is large (e.g. 170/85), it could be the sign of stiff arteries – often caused by heart disease. This means the blood vessels can’t dilate enough when the heart sends out a pulse, which forces the blood pressure to increase. (The walls can’t expand, so the pressure rises when the heart tries to pump the blood through.)
Devon Andre has been involved in the health and dietary supplement industry for a number of years. Devon has written extensively for Bel Marra Health. He has a Bachelor of Forensic Science from the University of Windsor, and went on to complete a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh. Devon is keenly aware of trends and new developments in the area of health and wellness. He embraces an active lifestyle combining diet, exercise and healthy choices. By working to inform readers of the options available to them, he hopes to improve their health and quality of life.
I totally agree with you that we should not rely on medication for high blood pressure. End of the day, high blood pressure is a symptom that our body requires immediate attention. The kidneys work extremely hard to send out the “signal” to us and what we did is to pop a high blood pressure pill to suppress the signal. With this medication, our body has to work even harder to send us another signal. No wonder over the long run people who are suffering from high blood pressure needs an additional pill for deteriorating kidneys. Our body is fully capable of healing itself without us realizing it. I strongly encourage high blood pressure sufferers to listen to this and say goodbye to high blood pressure once and for all:
Eat berries. Berries have many health benefits, and one of them is improving blood pressure and reducing other heart disease risks. Berries, like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, have lots of polyphenols, which are great for your heart. They’re also really tasty. So, load up on the berries for better blood pressure. If you don’t like eating them all the time, try adding them to a smoothie made with low-fat or fat-free yogurt without added sugar. Throw in some ice, banana, and low-fat milk for a heart-healthy treat.
This technique is known to surprisingly few health professionals, though it has proved valuable in the treatment of a wide variety of health problems. Recently, this powerful technique has been shown to be an extremely effective method for allowing the body to rapidly normalize high blood pressure more effectively than any other treatment reported in the scientific literature.
Coconut water: A great beverage on hot days, coconut water is rich in minerals and nutrients. It contains many electrolytes essential for the body, such as potassium, and has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure in most people who drink it. A study published in West Indian Medical Journal found that drinking coconut water helped 71 percent of participants achieve a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure, and 29 percent of participants achieves a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure
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
Too much booze is known to raise blood pressure. But having just a little bit could do the opposite. Light to moderate drinking (defined as one drink or fewer per day) is associated with a lower risk for hypertension in women, according to research from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Moderate drinking could play a role in heart disease prevention too, studies show.
If you’re not a fan of skim milk, yogurt could be a great alternative to fulfill your dairy needs and help fight/lower high blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, women who ate five or more servings of yogurt a week experienced a 20 percent reduction in their risk for developing high blood pressure. Dairy also contains calcium which is essential for healthy blood pressure since the mineral helps blood vessels tighten and relax when necessary, per Harvard Medical School.

Pickering TG, et al. Recommendations for blood pressure measurement in humans and experimental animals: Part 1: blood pressure measurement in humans: a statement for professionals from the Subcommittee of Professional and Public Education of the American Heart Association Council on High Blood Pressure Research. Hypertension. 2005 Jan;45(1):142-61.


Having a bad day can impair our judgment and lead to most of us making not-so-wise lifestyle choices like binge eating, smoking, or drinking. These unhealthy habits done in excess can negatively affect our health, especially our blood pressure. As one in four Americans continue to suffer from the epidemic of high blood pressure, it is imperative for us to effectively avoid and reduce this highly preventable disease associated with heart attack and stroke, aneurysms, cognitive decline, and kidney failure. Fortunately, there are ways to bring down blood pressure without the use of medication.
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.
Editor’s Note: Considerable controversy exists about whether fat or cholesterol are, per se, drivers of atherosclerosis. They are implicated in some studies, while others indicate that quality of fat, and placement in a wider dietary pattern, may be more significant to ultimate impact. What seems clear, however, is that a diet high in animal products, sugar, and processed foods is often a recipe for high blood pressure and heart disease.
Glad to be helpful. If the nephrologist says all the tests were negative, that sounds reassuring and might mean your doctors could try different types of BP medication with you. Generally, three types of medication are considered equally acceptable for first-line treatment of high blood pressure: thiazide-type diuretics, ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (these two are related), or calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine.
Another important step is to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight elevates your risk for high blood pressure and many other diseases and conditions. Losing just 5 percent of your body weight can have a significant positive impact on your blood pressure. Studies have shown that the combination of exercising and losing weight improves blood pressure numbers even more than either one alone. It may seem daunting to lose weight, but it is possible. Talk to your doctor about how other people have done it. And consider seeing a weight loss counselor too. You can do this! And after only a few pounds of healthy weight loss, you should start seeing your blood pressure numbers drop.
Control your meat consumption: While eating meat is not bad for you—in fact, it is a great source of protein—it is important not to overdo it. Lean meats such as poultry and fish are the best kinds of meat to consume. Meat generally has a high amount of fat and cholesterol and may contribute to clogged arteries, so it is important to limit this food to six ounces per day to best help control weight and your blood pressure.
As high blood pressure often goes unnoticed, it’s common for people to live with it unawares for some time. As it’s a risk factor, it may be wise to check your blood pressure every few years, even if you’re feeling healthy in general. This advice is especially directed towards people who are middle-aged or older, as high blood pressure is more common with age.
Thank you so much for your highly informative article on hypertension for seniors–the best one that I have read. Presently, my wife, age 78, weight 98 lbs., height 4′ 11″, has been on a 4 m Atacand (brand name) per day for close to ten years now. Healthwise, I was concerned about its side effects on her. Pricewise, it is a very, very costly drug and our plan now requires her to pay a newly required deductible of $350 before reaching a new copay that has also become more expensive as well. She does not smoke or drink. Her family doctor has suggested that she switches to a generic brand Atacand but she prefers not to risk with its poorer bioavailability. Is such a preference valid? Are there any benefits in a generic that would outweigh its bioavailability constraint? Is there any alternative brand name drug that would offer her a good transition? Thank you kindly again for sharing the above highly informative, useful, and rare article regarding hypertension for seniors. I’d look forward to your reply with great appreciation–if I may.

Don’t get too excited. Turns out that dark chocolate (at least 50% to 70% cocoa) can give you a boost of a plant compound called flavanol. As with garlic, this antioxidant can raise your nitric oxide levels and widen blood vessels. That can make your blood pressure drop a notch. It goes without saying that a little bit of chocolate is all you need.
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.
The calculated difference between the systolic and diastolic pressures is also of interest. If the difference is large (e.g. 170/85), it could be the sign of stiff arteries – often caused by heart disease. This means the blood vessels can’t dilate enough when the heart sends out a pulse, which forces the blood pressure to increase. (The walls can’t expand, so the pressure rises when the heart tries to pump the blood through.)
In a hot tub, as the water comes through the pipes, it has a degree of force. This force is caused by the action of the pump, which puts energy into the circulating system and forces the water through the pipes. When the pump is off, there still may be water in the pipes, but there is no force. The degree of force in the system when the pump is on can be gauged in several ways, such as by putting your hand in front of a “jet.” Another way would be to have a device to measure the amount of force that the water exerts against the walls of the pipes as it circulates. Such a device might yield a numerical measurement of the force, or pressure, of the water within the pipes.

Such monitoring provides excellent information for patients and doctors. In fact, research shows that ABPM is a better predictor of future cardiovascular events (e.g. heart attacks, strokes) than conventional office-based BP measurements are. However, ABPM is not yet widely available, since it requires special equipment and may not be covered by insurance.
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).

One notable recommendation within the new guidelines is the focus on lifestyle changes first, and medication only if necessary. Like all meds, blood pressure medications come with their side effects, so it’s always worth it to work on diet, exercise and stress management first. Even if an individual receives only partial benefits from lifestyle changes, it may still mean reduced medication usage, or one with fewer side effects if necessary. Here are a few lifestyle changes that you start today to reduce your blood pressure naturally.
“Beware of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) 'Salty Six' — six popular foods that can add high levels of sodium to your diet,” says Rachel Johnson, PhD, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington and the former chair of the AHA’s nutrition committee. The Salty Six include breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, sandwiches, pizza, soup, and chicken.
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.
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.
It’s a common question among our guests at the Pritikin Longevity Center, who are taught how devastating the high-salt U.S. diet is to our blood pressure and overall health. Searching for alternatives, people often ask: What about salt substitutes with potassium? And what about MSG? Isn’t it a bad choice? Here are answers, some of which may surprise you.

Research on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet shows that eating at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day can reduce blood pressure about as much as medication. Fruits and vegetables are high in potassium, which helps to balance sodium in your cells to reduce pressure in your blood vessel and has shown to lower risk for stroke. Try to incorporate at least one piece or serving of a fruit or vegetable (or both) into each snack, and include about ½ plate of fruits and vegetables into all your meals.
CoQ10 is a naturally occurring enzyme. It contains antioxidants that are good for maintaining cardiac health. CoQ10 has been shown to decrease blood pressure and reduces the thickening of the heart muscle (hypertrophy). There are no known side effects of CoQ10 since it naturally occurs in the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, for the treatment of hypertension, take 60-360 milligrams daily for 8-12 weeks.
As high blood pressure often goes unnoticed, it’s common for people to live with it unawares for some time. As it’s a risk factor, it may be wise to check your blood pressure every few years, even if you’re feeling healthy in general. This advice is especially directed towards people who are middle-aged or older, as high blood pressure is more common with age.
My mother had a massive cardiac event 19years ago. She is currently 79y and has 25% function of her heart. Up until 6 months ago was doing great. Then she started getting very tired and could hardly get out of bed.turns out her bp medication was making her hypotensive. The cardiologist put her on a new medication but took her off all bp mendications for 2 days. I had her take her bp twice a day for those two days and her bp was 111/62or less in am and evening. She also on day two felt great and was able to be back to normal ADL. She took the new medication in the evening before bedtime and woke up with a be of 83/54. Scared me to death. She felt terrible all day. I told her to not take it again. I have been since monitoring her bp twice daily and she is averaging 110/64. She had one morning at 154/83 when she was scared about some thing with a family member but later that evening it was again at 112/68. She has an apt. With cardiologist in 9 days. Should i have her cont. to stay off if we monitor daily and we do not see a spike in bp. I called her dr. After first week and the message from nurse, since doctor would not talk to me, was to take half of her enalipril. I said ok and still am afraid to let her take it. Am i wrong is there another reason for her to take this medication that causes the hyopensiveness?
In a hot tub, as the water comes through the pipes, it has a degree of force. This force is caused by the action of the pump, which puts energy into the circulating system and forces the water through the pipes. When the pump is off, there still may be water in the pipes, but there is no force. The degree of force in the system when the pump is on can be gauged in several ways, such as by putting your hand in front of a “jet.” Another way would be to have a device to measure the amount of force that the water exerts against the walls of the pipes as it circulates. Such a device might yield a numerical measurement of the force, or pressure, of the water within the pipes. 

Dear Dr. Kernisan, you don’t know how thrilled I am to hear back from you!! There seems to be so little kindness these days that I so appreciate your caring response. I have had little success finding information about malignant hypertension. You mentioned following up was a lot of work, but it has been so consuming for me due to my fear, but also trying for a decent quality of life with as few side effects as possible, that my daughter says I need to find something else to do. (I have no other family left)…Besides a very stressful job, and caregiving for my mother who lived to be 97, I have always done volunteer work, so am really ready to get back to being productive…As far as my malignant spikes, I have asked every doctor and no one has an answer as to why it suddenly developed. That is one reason it is so scary. The nephrologist says he guesses it was from years of chronic stress. All the tests (kidney and carotid artery) were negative. I do a ton of research and am so glad to have found your site!! I found you through a link in a Washington Post article by Janice Neumann on August 17 “New Blood Pressure Guidelines Can Cause Problems for the Elderly”… I did not find a way to contact her. I have had no luck finding similar patients but need to learn social media skills. Thank you again so much!!!! I will be a faithful follower from now on!!! Best Regards, Kathy

A study shows that drinking 2 cups of a mix of three parts beetroot and one part apple juice can make your systolic blood pressure (the top number) go down in just a few hours. Men may see a bigger benefit than women. High systolic pressure can raise your chances of strokes. Cooked beets and beet greens, which pack lots of potassium, are a good alternative.
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.
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.
A cold glass of milk offers a solid serving of both calcium and vitamin D, nutrients that work as a team to help lower blood pressure by 3 to 10 percent, according to Bauer’s website. Those numbers may not sound impressive, but they could translate to a 15 percent reduction in heart disease risk, she adds. Other research suggests that people with low levels of calcium are at greater risk of high blood pressure. Don’t miss these 18 other natural remedies for high blood pressure.
As the body increases production of an enzyme called angiotensin I-converting enzyme, or “ACE”, blood pressure increases. Pharmaceutical drugs called ACE inhibitors work by blocking the formation of this enzyme, but they have multiple side effects. Garlic contains gamma-glutamylcysteine, a natural ACE inhibitor.  This chemical, in combination with the high allicin content, gives garlic its ability to dilate arteries, thereby lowering blood pressure. I usually take one clove of garlic and remove the skin, chew well and swallow. Yes nobody wants to be around me after. You can also buy in pill form.
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.
If you have hypertension, ask your doctor if OSA could be behind it. (In addition to loud snoring, common symptoms include excessive daytime tiredness and early morning headaches.) Getting your sleep apnea under control could be helpful for improving your blood pressure, says Robert Greenfield, MD, Medical Director of Non-Invasive Cardiology & Cardiac Rehabilitation at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA.
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.

Arteries are naturally flexible and smooth, which allows blood to easily move throughout the body. High blood pressure creates extra force against the artery walls, which damages the lining of the arteries. As they become narrower and harder, this restricts blood flow, and when blood flow is lowered, the heart has to work harder to pump it through the body, which only makes the problem worse.
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.
Dairy or soy—it’s your choice. Replacing some of the refined carbohydrates in your diet with foods high in soy or milk protein (like tofu or low-fat dairy) can bring down systolic blood pressure if you have hypertension or prehypertension, findings suggest. "Some patients get inflammation from refined carbohydrates, which will increase blood pressure," says Matthew J. Budoff, MD, FACC, Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Director of Cardiac CT at the Division of Cardiology at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
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.
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).
In today’s time, when stress walks along, practicing poor eating habits combined with a sedentary lifestyle only add to the wellness issues. We prioritize our work, responsibilities and daily chores, and these things gradually tyrannize our life. Amidst pressure and hectic schedule, our health is something that suffers a lot. Stress and tension pave way for many ailments and to start with, high BP is the most common by far.
My BP since in my 30’s has been 135/75. I am 72 and last June it was averaging 160/70. I joined WW and lost 35 lbs but my home readings (BP monitor checked with doctor’s) 150-160/65-70. However, at doctors office it went from 170-145/75. I am planning to home monitor twice per day this next week. Another concern, my doctor is not concerned enough to put me on a hypertension pill. Isn’t 140 and above alarming? Health wise, my other health readings are all normal or below…..cholesterol, diabetes, plaque in arteries, etc.
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