High blood pressure (HBP) is a fairly common health issue in the US, with 75 million adults currently diagnosed with this condition.
HBP occurs when blood regularly flows through the veins at a high rate of pressure. This condition is also referred to as hypertension.
High blood pressure is sometimes called ‘the silent killer’ because it often has no symptoms. Even though this condition is asymptomatic, it is still important for you to get checked regularly, as HBP can lead to a number of other potentially serious health problems.
Medication is almost always an option to lower your blood pressure. However, there are also many ways to lower your BP without the help of a prescription medication.
How To Lower Blood Pressure Without Medication
It’s normal for your BP to fluctuate throughout the day. Excitement, being active, sleeping and waking up are all situations where blood pressure changes naturally. When your activity ends, your BP reading should return to a normal range.
A normal blood pressure is usually defined as systolic pressure below 120 mmHg and diastolic pressure below 80mmHg. Systolic pressure is the measurement of blood pressure from your heart beats. Diastolic pressure is when the heart is at rest between beats. Unfortunately there is no cure for high blood pressure currently, but you can take steps to manage it even without medication. Here are 7 ways to lower your blood pressure naturally:
- Exercise! Regular exercise is great for your overall well-being, and it can also help with lowering your BP. Regular exercise keeps your heart strong and healthy. Plus, it’s a natural stress reliever, and stress is a common cause of high blood pressure.
- Change your diet. Diets high in fatty, sodium-rich foods are detrimental to your blood pressure. Choose diets high in fruits and vegetables, lean meats, high fiber and whole grains.
- Maintain your weight. Watching your weight and maintaining a healthy weight for your body will reduce the amount of strain on your heart, and help regulate BP.
- Limit sodium intake. Sodium occurs naturally in many foods, but most processed food contains added sodium. Look for food items with low or no sodium to reduce overall intake and help lower HPB.
- Lower your stress levels. You can work to reduce stress levels through meditation, finding an enjoyable hobby, exercising, or anything else that helps you relax.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can raise your BP, so watch your consumption if you drink.
- Stop Smoking. Smoking cessation isn’t just good for lowering BP; it offers many additional health benefits such as healthier lungs and a lower chance of developing heart disease.
Blood pressure typically increases with age. It’s estimated that over 70% of US Seniors have high blood pressure. The American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for blood pressure by age recommends men and women, age 65 or older, aim for a blood pressure lower than 130/80 mm Hg.
Some people are more prone to developing high BP than others for other reasons too. Certain lifestyle choices can also increase your risk of developing HBP. Lowering your blood pressure is especially helpful if you have one or more risk factors for HBP. People most at risk for developing HBP are:
- Women (especially over age 65)
- People with family history of HPB
- People with diet high in sodium
- People with obesity or inactive lifestyles
- Heavy drinkers
Some factors, such as gender, ethnicity, and family history cannot be controlled. That’s why changing the factors you can control is important!
Why Lowering Your BP Matters
Over time, high blood pressure can lead to an array of health complications. HBP does not have symptoms, so it’s especially important to visit your primary physician on a regular basis. They will be able to determine if your blood pressure is abnormal and prescribe a treatment plan for you.
HPB can lead to:
- Kidney damage
- Damage to your heart and arteries
- Memory loss
- Peripheral Artery Disease
- Vision loss
When to Seek Emergency Care
High blood pressure causes damage to your organs over time. However, it’s possible for BP to rise suddenly and cause what is called a hypertensive crisis. Hypertensive crises can manifest as either hypertensive urgency or hypertensive emergency.
When checking your blood pressure, measurements over 180 for systolic and 120 for diastolic are warning flags. Wait a few minutes before you check again. If readings still exceed 180/120, then this is indicative of a hypertensive emergency.
If left unchecked, a hypertensive emergency may have severe consequences. Possible outcomes of uncontrollable high blood pressure include:
- Heart attack
- Aortic dissection
- Pulmonary edema
Seek medical attention immediately if your readings exceed 180/120. This amount of pressure can be damaging to organs and cause potentially serious conditions. If you are seeking help for controlling your high blood pressure, please visit our Primary Care Doctors library and schedule an appointment to discuss your options.