What is a normal blood pressure? Blood pressure is essential to life because it forces the blood around the body, delivering all the nutrients it needs. Here, we explain how to take your blood pressure, what the readings mean, and what counts as low, high, and normal. The article also offers some tips on how to maintain healthy blood pressure. Read now
First, keep in mind that drugs have limited success. Most studies on diuretics and other blood pressure-lowering drugs suggest they lower the risk of cardiovascular events among those with blood pressure between 140/90 and 159/99 by 15 to 20%.3 The problem is, with this range of blood pressure, the risk of cardiovascular-related deaths has increased by 300 to 400% compared to people with normal blood pressure.
Patients may be rushed and anxious when they’re in the doctor’s office, resulting in higher-than-normal blood pressure readings. Home monitors let patients measure and record blood pressure throughout the day for greater accuracy. Patients can keep a log of their numbers and bring the log and the monitor to their doctor’s appointment to check for accuracy.
All medications come with a risk of side effects, so why take them if you don’t have to? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about seven out of 10 U.S. adults with high blood pressure use medications to treat their condition. But what many people don’t realize is that you can help control your blood pressure naturally by changing a few daily habits.
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.
For example, eating a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can limit dense low-density lipoprotein (LDL) deposits along the artery that contribute to high blood pressure. Limiting intake of processed foods can lower sodium intake and total cholesterol. This, in addition to exercise, can also help lead to weight loss. Research indicates that losing as little as nine pounds can have substantial impacts on blood pressure.
In addition to lowering blood pressure almost overnight, apple cider vinegar has a myriad of fringe benefits. Apple cider vinegar helps with indigestion, especially if you suffer from diarrhea. It also soothes sore throats, cures hiccups instantly, and lowers cholesterol. Most importantly, it helps with weight loss by improving metabolism and reducing water retention — and a healthy weight is key to normalizing blood pressure.
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.
Our bodies react to tension by releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into the blood. These hormones can raise your heart rate and constrict blood vessels, causing your blood pressure to spike. But slow breathing and meditative practices such as qigong, yoga, and tai chi can help keep stress hormones—and your blood pressure—in check, Williams says. (And if you haven't heard, health benefits of meditation include reduced inflammation, natural pain relief, and more.) Start with five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night and build up from there. The breathing exercise above is designed to help you fall asleep fast.
As simple as it sounds, breathing is an effective technique to lower blood pressure. Slow breathing and meditative practices such as yoga can help decrease the stress hormones that elevate renin — a kidney enzyme that raises blood pressure. "Sit in a comfortable chair with armrests. Your body should be as relaxed as possible. Place one hand on a part of your chest or preferably your abdomen. Watch your hand rise and fall with each breath...feel the breath as it moves into your abdomen,” Dr. John M. Kennedy, a cardiologist in Los Angeles, Calif., and author of the book The Heart Health Bible told Medical Daily in an email. This should be repeated seven times and can become a daily habit by doing deep breathing 10 minutes in the morning.
In most cases where high blood pressure is diagnosed, the cause remains unclear. One review paper in the International Journal of Hypertension explains that this accounts for around 90% of all hypertension diagnosis and is usually referred to as essential hypertension. Secondary hypertension is diagnosed when a cause can be identified. Potential causes of secondary hypertension may include:
Don’t assume that your doctor is aware of these facts. If you are diagnosed with mild, high blood pressure, you likely will be prescribed medication, instructed that it is helpful, and told that you must take it for the rest of your life. But before accepting this potentially dangerous treatment, it may be to your advantage to seek answers to the following questions: “What caused my high blood pressure?” and “Can I remove those causes and reverse this condition?”
Aerobic activity can be an effective way to control high blood pressure. But flexibility and strengthening exercises such as lifting weights are also important parts of an overall fitness plan. You don't need to spend hours in the gym every day to benefit from aerobic activity. Simply adding moderate physical activities to your daily routine will help.
How low should you go? Aim to keep your sodium intake below 1,500 mg for healthy blood pressure, recommends the American Heart Association. That’s about half of what most Americans consume per day. Going easy on the saltshaker can help, but you’ll make a bigger impact by watching the sodium count in packaged or processed foods, Obarzanek says. (Pay extra attention to bread and rolls, pizza, soup, cold cuts, poultry, and sandwiches, which tend to pack the most salt.) Then try these other simple ways to slash your salt intake.
Cinnamon is another tasty seasoning that requires little effort to include in your daily diet, and it may bring your blood pressure numbers down. One study done in rodents suggested that cinnamon extract lowered both sudden-onset and prolonged high blood pressure. However, the extract was given intravenously. It’s unclear if cinnamon consumed orally is also effective.
2. Ayurveda Die: Improper diet also contributes towards the unhealthy condition of the body. Eat a balanced diet and avoid the consumption of salt and sugar, pickles, alcohol, caffeine, tomatoes, and fatty foods to regulate high BP. Include ginger, green leafy veggies, yogurt, berries, oatmeal, onion, amla, Omega-3 fatty acid, beetroot, Vitamin C rich fruits, herbs, garlic, seeds, cucumber, bananas, pomegranate, nuts, avocados and olive oil, in your meals.
Omega-3 fats are typically found in flaxseed oil, walnut oil and fish, with fish being by far the best source. Unfortunately, most fresh fish today contains dangerously high levels of mercury. Your best bet is to find a safe source of fish, or if this proves too difficult, supplement with a high quality krill oil, which has been found to be 48 times more potent than fish oil.
2. Take the right nutrients. Talk with your chiropractor or other healthcare professional about the wide range of well-studied nutrients that, along with dietary and lifestyle modifications, can help normalize your blood pressure. One meta-analysis found magnesium supplements could lower blood pressure. Likewise, researchers find a small but significant decline in blood pressure for people with hypertension who use fish oil. (You can get all of fish oil’s benefits combined with anti-inflammatory flax oil and GLA in our Optimal Omega.)