If you suddenly find yourself with high blood pressure (hypertension) under the new guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, you might be wondering what to do. The guidelines, which were released in November, lowered the definition for high blood pressure to 130/80 from 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), meaning more women now meet the criteria for stage 1 hypertension.
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.
1) Raw almonds. Eating just a handful of truly raw almonds every day can make a significant difference in keeping your blood pressure levels in check. A key component of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet, also known as DASH, raw almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been scientifically proven to help lower blood cholesterol levels, reduce arterial inflammation, and ultimately lower blood pressure levels.
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.
Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, so measuring it in the morning might yield a different number than, say, the afternoon. Conditions like stress and lack of sleep can also fluctuate blood pressure. Visiting your doctor might feel nerve-wracking, which can elevate your blood pressure and create a condition called white coat hypertension.

Results from SPRINT suggest that if you’re similar to the SPRINT participants, you may experience additional benefits by aiming for a systolic BP close to 120. If you’re considering this, be sure to read my article explaining SPRINT and related research, so that you’ll have a clear understanding of how likely you are to benefit (at best, an estimated 1 in 27 chance based on the research) and what are the risks and burdens.


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I am a 55 year old woman who was diagnosed with hbp about 5 years ago. I also have degenerative arthritis in my hips, in particular,and have had to keep up with strength training exercises over the past 20 years to ward off the pain. When first diagnosed with hpb, my doctor put me on Benicar. It helped immediately but I also began to experience some severe muscle and joint pain in my hips and legs. She switched me to Valsartan and the pain abided for about 2 months. Then came back again. Fast forward to last fall when I had a left hip replacement. Recovery was slow, especially for my age. I kept stumping the PT as to why my muscle tension was so tight. Finally, after I started working out at the gym, my pain resided. Counter intuitive, I know. Now I am scheduled to have a right hip replacement in November 2018 and am experiencing intermittent excruciating pain in my quads and tibia. I’ve been reading about an uncommon side effect of bp meds being muscle and joint pain. I’m wondering how much the bp meds are contributing to my pain. Would it be unreasonable to try switching bp meds every 3/4 months? Thank you for any advice you can provide.
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.
Eat beets: Rich in vitamins and minerals, this root vegetable can help decrease blood pressure. A 2010 study in hypertension found that drinking only 250ml of juice was needed have a positive effect on blood pressure. Many of the participants saw lowered blood pressure within 24 hours. Another study from 2012 saw that beetroot juice helped lower systolic blood pressure.

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.
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.
According to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, the goal of blood pressure treatment is to attain a blood pressure reading that's less than 130/80 mmHg systolic and less than 80mmHg diastolic. In general, if you have hypertension, it is likely that you will need to be treated for the duration of your life to maintain this target blood pressure. 
The sweet serves up flavanols that help lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels and boosting blood flow. On average, regular dark chocolate consumption could help lower your systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 5 points and your diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by almost 3 points, suggests an Australian analysis. How dark are we talking? Experts haven't been able to determine an ideal percentage of cocoa, says Vivian Mo, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. But the higher you go, the more benefits you'll get.

In fact, a review of Figure 2 indicates that the most impressive results were observed with the most serious cases. In cases of “moderate” to “severe” hypertension (blood pressures of 174/93 or greater), the average reduction at the conclusion of treatment was a remarkable 46/15! For these cases, which medical practitioners generally would insist need lifetime medical intervention, the average exit blood pressure was 128/78, using no medication whatsoever!


High blood pressure, a potentially dangerous health condition also known as hypertension, is quite common in the modern day. One of the most significant issues faced with high blood pressure is the fact that many people do not express obvious symptoms during the earlier stages of this condition. This is why many people refer to hypertension as a silent killer. Realizing what causes blood pressure to become elevated, identifying the symptoms and becoming educated about particular techniques that can help to reduce blood pressure levels quickly is essential to avoid the dangerous complications of this condition. In one study, over 70% of all participants had elevated blood pressure levels, causing a need formore adequate education on making the worldwide population more aware of the condition.

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.


All of these steps and techniques are things you should ask your doctor about as part of your personalized health plan. Preventative care from an experienced physician is the best way to fend off many health problems, and hypertension is no exception. Find a skilled St. Joseph Health primary care physician or heart specialist using our online provider directory. Download our health numbers report card to help you track your blood pressure and other common markers that measure heart health.
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