How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure?
Here are some effective natural ways to help yourself and lower blood pressure if you have high blood pressure (hypertension) or prehypertension.
I must state, right at the outset that in no way should this article be used as a substitute for medical advice. If your Doctor has prescribed medication for reducing your blood pressure, you should continue taking it, alongside implementing some of the lifestyle changes I highlight. Only if your Doctor tells you that it is ok to do so, should you discontinue or decrease the medication you have been prescribed as this could be extremely dangerous, even if you feel well.
What is High Blood Pressure?
When you have your blood pressure taken, you get two readings that tell you the higher and the lower pressure of the blood in your arteries with each heartbeat. The higher number is the systolic pressure and is the pressure when the heart beats. The lower number, the diastolic pressure is when the heart is at rest between beats.
How To Take Your Own Blood Pressure
Choose either a
The links I have provided above are to the two highest rated and most popular models available from Amazon.com (at the time of writing). Both are from Omron and I have provided pictures on the right.
Please visit the product page using the link for whichever monitor you are interested in as Amazon provide a helpful video for each one. The wrist monitor is less expensive but both will give excellent, accurate results if you follow the simple guidelines.
- Do not take your measurement within 30 minutes of eating, exercising, swimming, smoking or drinking alcohol.
- Rest in a seated position for 5 minutes with both feet on the floor (do not sit with legs crossed)
- You can then take your measurement in accordance with the instructions on the monitor type you have chosen.
- It is important to take your measurement at the same time each day and average your reading over several measurements.
What Do Your Blood Pressure Readings Mean?
Hypertensive Crisis ****
180 or above
110 or above
You have second stage Hypertension
160 or above
100 or above
You have high blood pressure
140 - 159
90 - 99
You have prehypertension
120 - 139
80 - 89
Normal Blood Pressure
120 or below
80 or below
Very Low Blood Pressure ***
60 or below
40 or below
Ways To Lower Blood Pressure
Use Diet and Exercise to Promote Weight Loss
Those who are overweight are much more likely to have high blood pressure than those who are not. You can see a significant improvement by losing quite a small amount of weight. WebMD states that losing just 10 lbs or 4.5 kg can help to lower blood pressure.
In general, the bigger your waist measurement, the more likely you are to have hypertension.
Measuring Waist Size Guide For Men
For men, try to keep, or get your waistline down below 40" or 102 cms. Don't forget that your waist size is not the same as your trouser size! Many trousers are cut to sit below a man's natural waistline - so check out the video (http://youtu.be/yQjNj_v2G_o) to find out how to measure yours - you might get a bit of a shock as most men find their waist measurement is more than they thought!
Guidelines for Asian men are for a waistline of 36" or below.
Measuring Waist Size Guide For Women
For women, the waist measurement should be less than 35" or 89 cms and many women are similarly unsure of exactly where their waist should be measured and tend to go on dress sizes but these can vary widely so check out this video (http://youtu.be/0pjjRvY7iKw) for an easy way to get an accurate measurement at home.
Asian women should aim for a waist size of 32" (81cms) or smaller.
Take Some Regular Exercise
If you are very overweight, taking exercise can be difficult until you lose some weight but trying to move more, even while seated can help.
There are a number of exercises that you can do while seated to help you get started.
The video I have provide is very short, but will give you an introductory 'taster' of what is possible, so that you can get started on an exercise plan while you work on reducing your weight.
Try to spread out your exercises throughout the week, broken down into sessions of at least half an hour. Don't try to cram loads of exercise into the weekend if you do nothing all week as this can be counterproductive. Even if you cannot have a workout at a gym, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking round the block at lunchtime, getting off your bus a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way are small things that will make a BIG difference!
If you have been diagnosed with hypertension or you are in the prehypertension range, you need to check with your Doctor before starting an exercise program as he might want you to take some precautions to begin with. It has been proven that exercise alone can help to bring down blood pressure and it has so many other benefits for your health too
Free Downloadable Guide to the DASH Diet
- Your Free Guide to the DASH Diet
This is a brilliant, FREE PDF that you can download and that is published by the US Department of Health and Human Services and it contains all the information you need for success.
Try the DASH Diet
The name of this Diet is actually an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is an eating plan rich in foods to lower blood pressure such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains plus low fat dairy and lean meats. The way to succeed with this diet is to implement changes gradually.
Your Downloadable Guide To Salt Content of Common Foods
- Free Guide to the Sodium Content of Common Foods
Here is a link to a helpful PDF you can download or print off for reference. It gives the salt content of many common foods and it will help you to keep your sodium levels within the guidelines.
Cut Down On The Salt In Your Diet
Another dietary change you can make is to try to cut down on the amount of salt you eat. The sodium in salt can raise blood pressure and limiting your intake to one level teaspoon per day can make a big difference. Remember, this is not the amount of salt that you can sprinkle onto your meals, it is the total amount of salt that you should eat daily in all the foods you consume.
If you are over 50, are of African or Caribbean descent, already have high blood pressure or other medical condition such as Diabetes, you should try to follow a low sodium diet of 1500 mg per day or less.
Checking the labels or processed food and ready meals for the salt content might really surprise you.
The guidelines are that you need to cut down on sodium, but consuming at least 3,500 mg of potassium a day can help rid the body of excess sodium too. Potassium is found abundantly in bananas and other good sources include yogurt and cantaloupe melon.
Other Natural Ways To Lower High Blood Pressure?
Alcohol: If you drink alcohol, a little is a good thing and can lower your blood pressure slightly. However drinking too much can not only raise your blood pressure significantly but it can also make prescription medications for blood pressure less effective so cutting down on your alcohol consumption is a good thing.
Smoking: Most people are aware of the dangers of smoking from the point of view of the potential for developing cancer and heart disease. However, many are not aware that smoking (even breathing in someone else's cigarette smoke), can raise blood pressure for up to an hour after each exposure.
Caffeine: Many people experience a rise in their blood pressure after drinking caffeinated drinks. However, there is (as yet), no conclusive evidence whether drinking coffee, etc. can have a long-term effect on levels. The sensible thing is to drink these beverages in moderation.
Stress: It is hardly surprising that with all the stresses and strains of the modern world, stress-related illnesses are becoming ever more common. It is proven that acute stress, (short term stress caused by a specific problem or event), can raise blood pressure. Chronic stress, (long-term stress caused by an ongoing situation such as family illness, financial problems or job related issues), can cause longer-term damage. Taking steps to reduce stress with interventions such as yoga, meditation and massage can help. Professional help or counselling to enable you to manage your stress levels and cope better can be more beneficial in the long-term.
Could a Chiropractor Help?
Another, surprising thing I found out whilst researching this article is that Chiropractic might help! I read an article where Peter Cox, director of the Chiropractic Care Center of Charlotte in North Carolina explained how misaligned vertebrae, particularly in the neck could affect blood flow to the brain and raise blood pressure. You can read the relevant section of the article here: http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/treating-hypertension-naturally?page=3
Check Your Blood Pressure At Home
Nowadays, you do not need to wait for a Doctor's appointment to keep a check on your blood pressure levels. There are small portable machines that are available for home use and are relatively inexpensive to buy online. Most of us have a set of weighing scales to keep an eye on fluctuations in our weight so it makes sense to buy a blood pressure monitor to keep a check on this too as taking action early can avoid potentially more serious problems from developing.
If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, you will get your levels checked regularly as part of your ongoing care.
What Else Should I Do?
All the tips mentioned above - and particularly following the DASH diet, taking regular exercise and steps to reduce your weight - are going to be effective natural ways to lower your blood pressure. If you are not already taking medication, managing to get it below 140 over 90 may negate the necessity for taking it in the future. However, you should still get a check-up from your Doctor on a regular basis.
Taking action, even if, despite all your efforts, you end up having to take medication for your hypertension, you will lower your risk of heart problems, diabetes, peripheral nerve damage and even lower your risk of stroke.
© 2013 Alison Graham
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