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Best Habits to Lower Your Blood Pressure, Says Physician

It's essential to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases worldwide. It is caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, environment, and social habits. To reduce your risk of developing hypertension, consider making certain lifestyle changes and use strategies proven to lower blood pressure. In this post, we will outline five such strategies; keep reading to learn more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

What Is Considered High Blood Pressure?

man having blood pressure checked
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It's essential to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. Your blood pressure is usually given as two numbers: systolic and diastolic. Doctors consider 130/80 or higher to be high enough to be diagnosed as hypertension. Most people with high blood pressure don't have any symptoms. This is why it is so important to get checked regularly by a doctor, especially if you are at risk of heart disease or stroke, are obese, or have diabetes or kidney disease. Read on to find out 5 effective ways to lower your blood pressure;

2

Active Lifestyle

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Being active in whatever form you enjoy will benefit your heart, body, mind, and spirit. Exercise is the best way to lower your blood pressure. Exercise training changes the thickness of blood vessels in your body. In one study, researchers found that people who exercised regularly had smaller arteries, making it easier for the heart to pump blood.

As you exercise regularly, your heart and lungs get stronger, so you can pump blood throughout your body with less effort. This helps lower your blood pressure and reduce the workload on your arteries.

So how much activity should you aim for:

American Heart Association Recommends;

  • 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both
  • Work out on at least two other days each week by doing muscle-strengthening activities such as resistance or weight training
  • Reduce your sitting time and break up your sedentary time with periods of light activity such as taking short walks
  • Try to be active at least 300 minutes each week
  • Increase your activity level gradually by choosing activities like using stairs, cycling, playing sports, etc.

Walking is a simple and easy way to improve your heart health. It is free and can be done just about anywhere and anytime. However, if you have any health issues, talk to your doctor and engage in the advised activities.

3

Healthy Eating Habits

vegetables
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It is believed that dietary methods for blood pressure control and prevention are extremely helpful. A recent study of the DASH diet found that those who followed it experienced lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is effective due to the combination of many known blood pressure-reducing dietary factors, including low sodium intake, high potassium intake, increased fiber intake, and low red meat and low saturated fat consumption.

If you're trying to lose weight and lower your blood pressure, pay attention to the types of macro and micronutrients you eat;

Protein: Include protein supplementation or substitute protein for fat or carbohydrate in your diet. Eating more protein in your diet may raise levels of amino acids in your blood, which have a blood pressure-lowering effect.

Fats: Fat from fast food should be avoided. However, the sources of dietary fat such as seafood, eggs, milk, and dairy products can help lower the incidence of hypertension and prehypertension.

Sodium: Sodium is found in most foods and beverages, so the amount of sodium you eat depends on your cultural context and diet. Most of the sodium in your diet comes from processed foods, and not from adding salt during cooking or at the table. To improve heart health, it is essential to reduce your sodium intake. Low sodium intake is not only associated with the reduced blood pressure but also reduces the risk of stroke and fatal coronary heart disease in adults.

Potassium: Potassium treatment is effective in reducing blood pressure in hypertensive patients with salt-rich diets. However, patients with a low salt intake don't benefit much from this diet change.

Magnesium:  High salt intake is linked to high blood pressure. By restricting your salt intake and replacing it with potassium or magnesium salts, you can lower your blood pressure. There is an emerging recognition of magnesium as a potential adjuvant for other nutrients currently recognized for their antihypertensive effect.

Fiber: Fiber is a part of your diet that comes from plant foods. Fiber can be either soluble or insoluble, and both are important. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that you get 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day. However, the average American only gets about 15 grams per day. Studies have shown that eating more fiber can reduce cholesterol levels and possibly reduce your risk of heart disease.

The best way to prevent high blood pressure is by eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

4

Limit Your Alcohol Intake

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Alcohol intake has consistently been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. But it's still important to keep an eye on your health and ensure a proper diet and exercise regimen. And also, regular consumption of excess alcohol can elevate your blood pressure.

Studies indicate that abstinence or a reduction in alcohol intake can lower blood pressure within 2-4 weeks. The maximum benefit occurs at one or two standard drinks per day, which are equivalent to 10-20 grams of alcohol. Drinking more than that would not be wise if you already have high blood pressure.

5

Reduce Your Stress

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Psychological stress is another significant factor that may lead to high blood pressure. Reducing your stress level is not proven to directly lower your blood pressure. However, learning effective stress reduction strategies can result in positive behavioral changes, including those that lower blood pressure. Stress-reduction techniques such as biofeedback, relaxation, or combined interventions can help you improve your heart health.

Simple techniques to manage your day-to-day stress;

  • Practice breathing techniques along with yoga and meditation
  • Plan your day ahead to avoid stressing over undone tasks
  • Focus on getting enough quality sleep
  • Work on your mindset and practice gratitude instead of complaining
  • Ask for help when in need
  • Socialize with people and have a support group
  • Look for professional help and follow your doctors' recommendation

6

Quit Smoking

Hand stubbed out cigarette in a transparent ashtray on wooden table
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Smoking brings various ill-effects to your health. It makes your heart beat faster and your blood pressure rise. It also accelerates the aging of your arteries, which is linked to high blood pressure. Smoking can increase your blood fat levels, which can result in insulin resistance and heart disease.

Smoking also decreases your body's ability to fight against disease, leading to artery hardening, stroke, and heart attack. Studies indicate that smoking not only increases blood pressure but also reduces the effect of antihypertensive drugs.

Smoking is a significant cardiovascular risk factor, and quitting can help improve your heart health.

7

Conclusion

Pharmacist checking blood pressure of customer
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As explained above, managing your blood pressure is not just about being physically active. It's important to juggle many different factors at once to make a difference in your heart health. It might be daunting to change your habits completely, but when you break it down into manageable chunks, it doesn't seem so impossible! You can do it if you put your mind to it!

All these habits have proven to be effective in reducing blood pressure levels, so give them a shot to be heart healthy! And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Dr. Rashmi Byakodi is a writer who helps her readers live healthier and happier lives. 

Dr. Rashmi Byakodi
Dr. Rashmi Byakodi is a writer who helps her readers live healthier and happier lives. Read more