When your heart beats, it squeezes blood into the arteries and creates pressure. The systolic pressure or top number, represents the heart’s force of moving the blood into those arteries. Between beats, the heart is at rest while it refills with blood. The diastolic pressure, or bottom number, measures the pressure in the arteries while the heart is resting. 

You can have high blood pressure, or hypertension, and still feel just fine. That's because high blood pressure often does not cause signs of illness that you can see or feel. But, high blood pressure, sometimes called "the silent killer," is very common in older people and a major health problem. If high blood pressure isn't controlled with lifestyle changes and medicine, it can lead to stroke, heart disease, eye problems, kidney failure, and other health problems. High blood pressure can also cause shortness of breath during light physical activity or exercise.

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.
How do you check your own blood pressure? It is common to have your blood pressure checked at the doctor's office, but there are many cases where it is important to monitor it at home. It is easy to check blood pressure with an automated machine, but it can also be done manually at home. Learn how to check your own blood pressure and what the results mean. Read now
We asked clinicians from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s CardioVascular Institute how they advise their patients to keep blood pressure under control. While medication is the right solution for some people, the good news is that lifestyle changes can help reduce — and in some cases replace — the amount of medication needed. It’s a good place to start.
Even if you don’t keep a salt shaker on the table, you may have too much sodium in your diet. Processed foods -- especially canned soups, salad dressings, snack mixes, and fast food -- are a large contributor of sodium to your diet. Read food labels and choose low-sodium options when possible. Aim to consume less than 2,300 milligrams per day, and less than 1,500 milligrams if you’ve already been diagnosed with hypertension.
I have had “pre hypertension” with BPs of 135/90. I started a twice a day meditation/deep breathing practice, and an attitude shift away from “being busy”, and my BP fell to the 110/70 range. This process works. I am a physician myself. Go for it. Don’t fall for the myth that everyone has to be on physician prescribed medications for virtually every health issue in the galaxy.
Consuming 4 tablespoons of flaxseed can lower systolic blood pressure in postmenopausal women who have a history of heart disease, a small study found. The seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which probably explains the effect. Try 2 tablespoons in your oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast, then sprinkle 2 tablespoons over soup or salad later in the day for a tasty crunch. Stock up on these 8 foods that naturally lower blood pressure.
Consuming 4 tablespoons of flaxseed can lower systolic blood pressure in postmenopausal women who have a history of heart disease, a small study found. The seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which probably explains the effect. Try 2 tablespoons in your oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast, then sprinkle 2 tablespoons over soup or salad later in the day for a tasty crunch. Stock up on these 8 foods that naturally lower blood pressure.
Try meditating. Reducing your stress in general has a positive effect on your blood pressure. The American Heart Association released a scientific statement on alternative approaches to lowering blood pressure that acknowledges that there is some benefit to meditation as far as your heart is concerned. So, since you’re already alone in the truck, close your eyes (not while driving), take a deep breath and let healing energies wash over you.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at how eating whole grains affected blood pressure in middle-aged people. British researchers compared a diet of whole wheat (or whole wheat plus oats) to a diet of refined grains. They found that eating three servings of whole grains was linked with a reduction in systolic blood pressure. Exactly why isn't clear, athough other research has pointed to beneficial effects of whole grains on cholesterol.


4. Find an exercise that works for you (and do it). Moving more can help reverse high blood pressure. One meta-analysis of 65 studies found regular exercise provides both an acute and longer-term reduction in blood pressure. Whether you’re an exercise novice or a conditioned athlete, these four strategies can help you create an effective workout plan to optimize health.
Magnesium supplements were found to modestly lower blood pressure—by about 2 points in both systolic and diastolic pressure—in a 2016 analysis of 34 clini­cal trials. A 2017 analysis of 11 clinical trials reached a similar conclusion. It looked at the effect of magnesium supplements (365 to 450 milligrams a day) on blood pressure in people with diabetes, prediabetes, or insulin resistance. But supplements aren’t necessary to get those levels of magnesium; a healthy diet supplies plenty of the mineral. For the best sources of magnesium, see the chart here.
Ginger, the spicy root often used in Asian cooking, could also help lower blood pressure. According to M. Jan Ghayur and A. Gilani from The Aga Khan University Medical College in Pakistan and published in the January 2005 issue of the "Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology," ginger can reduce blood pressure by blocking the voltage-dependent calcium channels. MedlinePlus agrees that ginger does reduce high blood pressure, but individuals who take medication for their high blood pressure should use ginger with precaution because ginger might lower it too much or cause an irregular heartbeat.
Many factors can cause your blood pressure to rise, and each factor may or may not require medication. Many people make lifestyle changes that lower their blood pressure without medication; especially for pre-hypertension and stage 1 of hypertension. Also, each time you take your blood pressure, make sure you are still and calm, sitting with both feet on the floor, arm supported on a flat surface, and you are measuring at the same time everyday. You can also take multiple readings in one sitting, but wait one minute between each reading. These steps will ensure you are providing your healthcare provider with the most accurate blood pressure reading!

For a study in Nutrition Journal, Australian researchers looked at the effects of beet juice on blood pressure among healthy men and women. Participants drank either beet plus apple juice or plain apple juice, then had their blood pressure monitored over 24 hours. The results: The researchers observed a reduction in systolic blood pressure six hours after participants drank beet juice, especially among the men. Beets naturally contain nitrates, which ease blood pressure.
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