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.
For an even bigger impact on blood pressure levels, try the DASH Diet, also known as Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension. You’ll lower your salt intake on this plan, but you’ll also eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat diary products. “The DASH Diet can lower the top number—systolic pressure—anywhere from 8 to 14 points,” says cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of the Women’s Heart Program at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “The diet is high in foods that have calcium, magnesium, and antioxidants, all of which contribute to lowering blood pressure.” It's also rich in potassium, which can help blunt the impact of any sodium you consume.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Damage to your blood vessels occurs every time your pressure is elevated, and the new guidelines are meant to help people become more aware earlier. And through earlier awareness, it may help prevent the damage that would occur if you waited for a later diagnosis.
Although medications can lower blood pressure, they may cause side effects such as leg cramps, dizziness, and insomnia. “The best habits to establish for reducing blood pressure are the same ones for a healthy life; follow an anti-inflammatory diet, do consistent low-level physical activity throughout the day, and the time plenty of time to reduce stress by learning how to smell the roses,” said Dr. Barry Sears, president of the Inflammation Research Foundation, to Medical Daily in an email. Lowering blood pressure can be attained without a prescription, not just by remaining alert on salty foods, but also with these five little-known everyday habits:
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:
Talk to your doctor about adding supplements to your diet. Check with your doctor to see whether a natural remedy may help lower your blood pressure. Many natural remedies have scientific evidence to show that they can lower high blood pressure, but you should never attempt to replace your blood pressure medication without talking with your doctor.
Studying men with hypertension who came to Pritikin, scientists at UCLA found that within three weeks, the men had significantly healthier levels of blood pressure. In fact, those who arrived at Pritikin taking hypertension drugs left Pritikin two to three weeks later no longer needing their medications, or with their dosages significantly reduced.1
Several Indian studies over the last few years have shown that Arjuna, in animals and in humans, reduces total cholesterol and increases HDL (“good” cholesterol). One study showed that this herb was as effective an antioxidant as vitamin E and that it reduced cholesterol in the human subjects quite substantially. Considering its benefit for cholesterol, it is not surprising that it lowers blood pressure; many cases of high blood pressure in the United States are caused by cholesterol accumulation in the arteries.
You bet. As reported by ABC World News on September 16, 20103, one cardiologist believes the connection between stress and hypertension is undeniable, yet still does not receive the emphasis it deserves. In response, Dr. Kennedy developed a stress-relieving technique he calls "The 15 Minute Heart Cure," a set of breathing and creative visualization techniques that can be done anywhere, anytime. The technique is demonstrated in the ABC World News video above. By teaching your body to slow down and relax when stress hits -- essentially short-circuiting your physical stress reaction -- you can protect your health.
Do something that's moderate in intensity -- like brisk walking -- for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 or more days a week. That may be enough to keep you off medications or help them work better. Exercise can lower your blood pressure by as much as five to 15 points. Gradually make your workouts more intense to keep lowering your blood pressure to safer levels.