How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure?

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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.

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A very popular wrist blood pressure monitor from Omron available at a discount from Amazon. Please use the link provided (left) to watch an Amazon video of this product.This is the display unit of the upper arm blood pressure monitor from Omron that I have provided a link to on the left. This is the upper arm blood pressure monitor from Omron in position. You can view an Amazon video of this product in use by using the link (above left).
A very popular wrist blood pressure monitor from Omron available at a discount from Amazon. Please use the link provided (left) to watch an Amazon video of this product.
A very popular wrist blood pressure monitor from Omron available at a discount from Amazon. Please use the link provided (left) to watch an Amazon video of this product. | Source
This is the display unit of the upper arm blood pressure monitor from Omron that I have provided a link to on the left.
This is the display unit of the upper arm blood pressure monitor from Omron that I have provided a link to on the left. | Source
This is the upper arm blood pressure monitor from Omron in position. You can view an Amazon video of this product in use by using the link (above left).
This is the upper arm blood pressure monitor from Omron in position. You can view an Amazon video of this product in use by using the link (above left). | Source

How To Take Your Own Blood Pressure

Choose either a

wrist blood pressure monitor

or an

upper arm blood pressure monitor.

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.

  1. Do not take your measurement within 30 minutes of eating, exercising, swimming, smoking or drinking alcohol.
  2. Rest in a seated position for 5 minutes with both feet on the floor (do not sit with legs crossed)
  3. You can then take your measurement in accordance with the instructions on the monitor type you have chosen.
  4. 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?

Meaning
Systolic Pressure
Diastolic Pressure
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
Hypertensive Crisis **** - you must seek immediate medical attention if your blood pressure ever reaches these levels Very Low Blood Pressure *** - you need to seek medical advice if your blood pressure is at these low levels.

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

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.

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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Comments 20 comments

Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 2 years ago from UK Author

Hi Kenneth, thanks for your kind comment - I will certainly head over and check out some of your hubs.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Hi Alison,

Bingo! The hub that hit home with me . . .and

Just wanted to let you know that this was a great hub. Wonderful subject and terrific writing. I voted up and all of the buttons on this one. You deserved it because you put a lot of work into this story.

I liked your presentation and graphics too.

I cordially invite you to check out a few of my hubs and become one of my followers. I am going to leave you some fan mail now and follow you.

Sincerely,

Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK Author

So sorry to learn of the very stressful situation you found yourself in FlourishAnyway - I guess it must have been difficult to take the decision to quit but you definitely did the right thing for your health's sake.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

This is good, useful information on lowering blood pressure. I had elevated BP levels when I worked a very stressful job and they were undergoing layoffs and I had to investigate complaints of discrimination of all the unhappy people who were losing their jobs. Screamers, criers, suicide threats, threats of violence, lots of mental illness, lawsuits, etc. Then there was management. Meh. After I quit with two week's notice my blood pressure dropped to below normal levels, like a huge weight had been lifted. New lease on life!


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK Author

thanks for leaving a comment alexadry - but I do think that checking your blood pressure several times and taking an average gives a truer reading. If you checked at the local pharmacy, had you been rushing around, shopping, etc? Your resting blood pressure might be ok - but it is definitely worth checking out, so many health problems can be avoided by keeping blood pressure within 'normal' levels, as you know.


alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 years ago from USA

Thanks, this is a great read. Last time I took a reading at my local pharmacy I noticed my diastolic was a bit high putting me into the pre-hypertension state, while my systolic was fine. I guess I need to cut down on salts!


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for your comment Micheal and great advice on the dietary and lifestyle changes that can make such a big difference too!


michealjholding 3 years ago

Hi Alison,

Informative blog for those who are dealing with high blood pressure and like to say exercise regularly to reduce extra weight, sooth stress and manage high blood pressure. Eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products more in your diet and quit alcohol, smoking and caffeine.

http://atkinsonchiropractic.com/libertyville-chiro...


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK Author

Thanks ptstraubie48 - I know it will sound like a sales pitch, but I really think that having a home blood-pressure monitor would help you. The white-coat syndrome you mention is very common and just making it part of your daily routine could turn it into something as mundane as brushing your teeth!

@janshares, thanks so much, I really appreciate your comment as I have been working hard on my writing style trying to make it more engaging and easier to read so what you said is very encouraging. Thanks again.


janshares profile image

janshares 3 years ago from Washington, DC

Wonderful article, Alison. I like your down-to-earth, non-clinical approach to presenting an informative article that will engage the reader and make them grasp the practical information they need. Very much needed for so many. I hope you get a lot of hits. Voted up and useful.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Interesting suggestions. I am one of those for whom it is difficult to get a true reading. the thought of having my pressure taken sends it off the charts.

Thanks for sharing these ways to keep our pressure in check.

Angels are on the way to you today. ps


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Thanks for outlining these tips for lowering blood pressure. Article is interesting and well written.


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK Author

Wow @vocalcoach! Audrey, thanks so much, I truly appreciate your comment and your encouragement - it means a lot to me.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

I voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and will pin and share with others. One of the best written articles on this subject! Good video on measuring the waistline. Thanks for access to the DASH diet.

Great - just great! ~ Audrey


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK Author

Thanks @Schoolmom24 - I may have to add to this hub with some information about specific foods as although I recommend the DASH diet and provide info on that, it would be helpful for readers to have information on foods to lower blood pressure.


Schoolmom24 profile image

Schoolmom24 3 years ago from Oregon

Good info! There are also some foods that actually can lower it as well as meds in some people but without the side effects. And as you said, exercising regularly is great for managing high blood pressure.

I'm new to Hubpages and hope you'll stop by! :)


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK Author

Heidi, thanks for your comment and for the interesting information about the Resperate device. I will research this further and add some information about it to the article. Thank you - I am all for doing without taking medication if at all possible!


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 3 years ago from UK Author

Thanks epbooks, high blood pressure sometimes gets referred to as the 'silent killer' as often people are unaware they have the problem until things get really serious. This is why I am in favor of using a home blood pressure testing machine on a regular basis so that early action can be taken if necessary.


heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

Good info and tips! Good advice to take blood pressure frequently at home, especially if you have "white coat syndrome" (higher at doc's office due to higher anxiety) like I do. It's an issue I have to constantly monitor. Also, I've been using this Resperate device which helps train your breathing and thus your blood pressure. Seeing results without drugs. Thanks for sharing this important info!


epbooks profile image

epbooks 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

Great advice. So far, I've been lucky with my blood pressure but this article is definitely worthy of sharing! Thank you for posting. Voted up.

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