High blood pressure, or hypertension, is called the “silent killer” for good reason. It often has no symptoms but is a major risk for heart disease and stroke.
Your blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, which is abbreviated as mm Hg. There are two numbers involved in the measurement:
- Systolic blood pressure. The top number represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats.
- Diastolic blood pressure. The bottom number represents the pressure in your blood vessels between beats when your heart is resting.
Blood pressure lower than 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal. Blood pressure that’s 130/80 mm Hg or more is considered high. If your numbers are above normal but under 130/80 mm Hg, you fall into the category of elevated blood pressure. This means that you’re at risk for developing high blood pressure.
Here are some effective ways to lower your blood pressure levels:
Increase activity and exercise more
As you regularly increase your heart and breathing rates, over time your heart gets stronger and pumps with less effort. This puts less pressure on your arteries and lowers your blood pressure.
Aerobic exercise, resistance training, high-intensity interval training, short bouts of exercise throughout the day, or walking 10,000 steps a day may all lower blood pressure
Lose that extra weight
If you are overweight, losing even 5 to 10 pounds can reduce your blood pressure. A 2016 review of several studies reported that weight loss diets reduced blood pressure by an average of 3.2 mm Hg diastolic and 4.5 mm Hg systolic
Cut back on sugar
Several scientific studies show that restricting sugar and refined carbohydrates can help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.
A positive aspect of a low-carb, low-sugar diet is that you feel fuller longer because you’re consuming more protein and fat.
Add potassium to your diet
Include foods such as potatoes, bananas, avocados, spinach, yogurt Increasing your potassium intake and cutting back on salt can also lower your blood pressure . Potassium not only lessens the effects of salt in your system, and also eases tension in your blood vessels.
Cut back on processed food
Cutting out processed food will help you eat less salt, less sugar, and fewer refined carbohydrates. All of this can result in lower blood pressure.
Reduce or quit smoking
Stopping smoking is good for your all-around health. Smoking causes an immediate but temporary increase in your blood pressure and an increase in your heart rate. In the long term, the chemicals in tobacco can increase your blood pressure by damaging your blood vessel walls, causing inflammation, and narrowing your arteries. The hardened arteries cause higher blood pressure.
Unwind with meditation and yoga
Mindfulness and meditation, including transcendental meditation, have long been used — and studied — as methods to reduce stress. A 2013 study on yoga and blood pressure found an average blood pressure decrease of 3.62 mm Hg diastolic and 4.17 mm Hg systolic when compared to those who didn’t exercise.
Dark chocolate is good
For all the chocolate lovers, good news! Dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure. A review of studies on dark chocolate has found that eating one to two squares of dark chocolate per day help in lowering blood pressure and inflammation. The benefits are thought to come from the flavonoids, which dilate or widen, your blood vessels.
Sound and restful sleep
Your blood pressure typically dips down when you’re sleeping. There are many ways to help you get restful sleep. Try setting a regular sleep schedule, spend time relaxing at night, exercise during the day, avoid daytime naps, and make your bedroom comfortable.
Eat healthy high-protein foods
It’s fairly easy to consume 100 grams of protein daily on most types of diets. Include high protein foods such as fish, eggs, chicken breast, kidney beans, lentils, nuts, chickpeas and cheddar cheese.
Drink less alcohol
Alcohol can raise your blood pressure, even if you’re healthy. So it is important to drink in moderation. A standard drink contains 14 grams of alcohol. Moderate drinking is up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
Take prescribed medication on time
They work and will improve your long-term outcome, especially if you have other risk factors. However, it can take some time to find the right combination of medications. Consult your doctor about possible medications and what might work best for you.