Seven Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a symptomless condition that can wreak havoc on your health. (See Blood Pressure Symptoms - The Quiet Disease for more info.) So if your numbers are even slightly too high, check out these straightforward ways to lower your blood pressure – without necessarily resorting to medications. Per Gary Milechman, MD, a specialist in cardiovascular disease in San Francisco, these are proven techniques that lower blood pressure. Some you may already know; some may surprise you.
- Lose some weight. Even if you don’t reach your ideal weight for body height, losing 10 to 20 pounds can make a big difference in your blood pressure numbers.
- Exercise. You know that regular exercise is good for your weight, your bones and your mood. It’s also good for keeping your blood pressure in the right range.
- Watch your alcohol intake. Women who consume more than two drinks a day (and men who consume more than three) can see a significant rise in blood pressure. Reducing the alcohol will help lower blood pressure, and it may also help with weight management as well. Note that reducing alcohol will reduce blood pressure, even if you don’t shed pounds.
- Reduce your salt intake. For those who are sensitive to salt in the diet, it can make a dramatic impact on blood pressure. This doesn’t just mean setting down the salt shaker, but also watching out for high-sodium foods, like bacon, salty chips and pretzels. The DASH diet is a recommended eating plan for those with high blood pressure.
- Watch the pain relievers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Ibuprofin, if taken regularly, can increase blood pressure. Once in a while is okay, but regular use can be problematic. If you need these medications for chronic pain, discuss this issue with your doctor.
- Deal with sleep apnea. If you have high blood pressure and you snore, the two factors may be connected. Sleep apnea (a blockage of the air flow during sleep that causes repeated awakening) can drive up blood pressure. If you think this might be you, get evaluated.
- Relax and reduce your stress. Studies have tied a “hurry up,” driven personality type to high blood pressure and heart disease. If that sounds like you, explore techniques that help in coping with stress. Sign up for a mindfulness based stress reduction program, or try yoga and other exercises that can slow you down and disconnect you from that inner pressure.
According to Dr. Milechman, these natural, lifestyle techniques can make a big difference in bringing down blood pressure. But if you can’t, medications are the proper next step. Check out “The Quiet Disease” to learn why. So if your doctor has prescribed blood pressure medication, Dr. Milechman has just one tip: Take your medications regularly.