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.
An aside: We don't much like taking medications, either. But if you end up needing blood pressure medicine to achieve a healthy blood pressure, don't be discouraged. The medicines are effective and safe, and they present only mild side effects, if any. Studies comparing older and newer blood pressure medicines found that one of the oldest and cheapest classes of drugs (the thiazide diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide and chlorthalidone) was as good as, or better than, the newer, more expensive ones.
“Weight is one of the most important determiners of blood pressure,” says John Bisognano, MD, director of the Hypertension Clinic at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York. “Once someone’s BMI is over 25 to 28, taking off a few pounds will make a big difference in treating high blood pressure.” (A body mass index of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, while 30 and higher is obese.)
If you are in this 130/80 range, reducing your blood pressure can help protect you from heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, eye disease, and even cognitive decline. The goal of the new guidelines is to encourage you to treat your high blood pressure seriously and to take action to bring it down, primarily using lifestyle interventions. "It is well documented that lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure as much as pills can, and sometimes even more," says Dr. Fisher.
Stress, along with the methods some use to compensate for it, such as overeating, smoking, or drinking, can exacerbate problems with blood pressure. To help reduce stress, identify the contributing factors. Where possible, minimize these stressors, or when that cannot be done, determine the most effective methods to cope with them such as meditation or dedicating more time to hobbies.
Most Americans—including 86% of those with high blood pressure—eat more salt than is advised by the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If you’re one of them, reducing your intake to less than the recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams (about a teaspoon) a day may make a big difference in your blood pressure (and even better if you can stay below the American Heart Association's 1,500-mg daily limit). Even just reducing your sodium intake by 10 or 20% can help, says Dr. Bisognano. “We ask people to decrease their consumption from sky-high to reasonable levels,” he adds. “Learn not to salt your eggs; finish your lunch without a pickle—you want to make little changes you can tolerate for the long term.”
1. Concentrate on foods that lower blood pressure. Sugary, processed foods contain salt, sugar, damaged fats, and food sensitivities like gluten that contribute to or exacerbate high blood pressure. Shifting to a whole, unprocessed foods diet can dramatically impact your blood pressure. Many whole, unprocessed foods are rich in potassium, a mineral that supports healthy blood pressure. Some research shows that too much sodium and low amounts of potassium – can contribute to high blood pressure. Research shows people with high blood pressure can benefit from increased potassium in foods including avocado, spinach, wild-caught salmon, and sweet potatoes.
Flax seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and has been shown in some studies to lower blood pressure. A recent review suggested taking 30–50 grams of whole or ground seeds per day for more than 12 weeks to get the best benefits. Flax seed may protect against atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease by reducing serum cholesterol, improving glucose tolerance, and acting as an antioxidant.
The American Health Association actually looked at different kinds of meditation techniques ranging from focussed attention to Transcendental meditation (TM), and contemplative forms like Zen and mindfulness techniques. Out of these, TM was found to have a modest effect on blood pressure reduction, but whether it is superior to other techniques is hard to say since head-to-head trials have not taken place.
A lack of vitamin D is common in developed countries and can cause a range of health problems. But this simple and inexpensive supplement may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Taking around 4000IU of a high-quality D3 supplement daily can also support bone health, lower blood pressure, boost your mood and reduce fatigue – and these are just a few of its many health benefits.
Vitamin K2. Adequate vitamin K2 helps keep calcium from residing in blood vessels, thereby preventing hypertension and calcification (19). Vitamins K1 and K2 have different forms and functions. Vitamin K1 is abundant in leafy greens and many other foods, while vitamin K2 sources are more uncommon: natto (fermented soy), some cheeses, butter from grass-fed cows, goose liver, and egg yolks.
3. Eat a healthy diet. Food is another powerful medicine. Whether you need to lose weight or not, eating well can improve your blood pressure. That means eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy oils (such as olive and canola), foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, walnuts and flaxseed, for example) and two or three servings daily of low-fat or nonfat dairy products. It also means avoiding saturated and trans fats.
Meditate or take slow, steady deep breaths to calm the nervous system, relax and your dilate blood vessels. Breathing exercises help calm your sympathetic nervous system and your fight-or-flight response. This technique also encourages blood flow to your body’s tissues and causes your diaphragm to move up and down, which eases blood flow to your heart.
There are other reasons you may want to spend more time in the great outdoors, though. A 2014 study found that when the skin is exposed to sunlight, a chemical reaction causes blood vessels to widen and blood pressure to drop. And in a 2010 study, people who spent time in nature—walking in the forest as opposed to in an urban environment—saw greater reductions in their blood pressure, pulse rate, and stress hormones.
But not all high blood pressure is safe, and the longer it stays at a high rate, the more health risks you assume. Risks include acute responses like sweating, fainting or shortness of breath, and more severe issues like heart disease and heart attack can arise. So when stress hits, knowing how to lower blood pressure quickly can be a great health benefit.
Most doctors have been taught that once a diagnosis of “high blood pressure” has been made, blood pressure medication is the treatment of choice. As a result, many physicians believe that the current definition of “high” blood pressure is also the same level of blood pressure at which drug treatments are worthwhile. Unfortunately, this is not the case.