For good reason, hypertension (high blood pressure) is referred to as the “silent killer.” It’s a big risk factor for heart disease and stroke, but there are often no symptoms. Furthermore, these illnesses are among the most common causes of death in the United States (1Trusted Source).
The prevalence of high blood pressure in the United States is nearing 50%. (2Trusted Source).
Millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg, is the abbreviation for your blood pressure. The measurement includes two numbers:
- Blood pressure at the top of the systolic artery. When your heart pumps blood throughout your body, the top number shows the amount of pressure exerted on the arteries.
- This is the pressure in your diastolic blood vessels. The pressure in your blood arteries between beats, when your heart is filling and relaxing, is represented by the lower number.
Your blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of artery resistance. Your blood pressure will rise if your arteries are narrowed.
Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. 130/80 mm Hg is considered to be high blood pressure.
A blood pressure reading of more than 130/80 mm Hg but less than 140/90 mm Hg is considered high. As a result, you may be at risk for getting hypertension (3).
Fortunately, if you have high blood pressure, you don’t have to rely on prescription medications to lower your readings and lessen your risk.
10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication
You may lower your blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease by implementing these 10 lifestyle changes.
Concerned about taking medication to lower your blood pressure if it has been diagnosed?
When it comes to controlling your blood pressure, a healthy diet and regular exercise are critical. You may be able to avoid, delay, or lessen the need for medicine if you follow a healthy lifestyle.
You can lower your blood pressure and keep it low by making these 10 lifestyle adjustments.
1. Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline
Weight gain might lead to a rise in blood pressure. Being overweight can also lead to sleep apnea, which can further elevate your blood pressure since it disrupts your breathing while you sleep.
Dietary adjustments that result in weight loss are among the most effective ways to reduce high blood pressure. If you’re overweight or obese, even a modest weight loss can help lower your blood pressure. With each kilogram (approximately 2.2 pounds) of weight you lose, your blood pressure can be reduced by around 1 millimeter of mercury (mm Hg).
In addition to losing weight, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your waistline. Weight gain around the waist can increase your chance of developing high blood pressure.
To sum it up:
- If a man’s waist measurement is greater than 40 inches, he is at risk (102 centimeters).
- Women who have a waist circumference more than or equal to 35 inches are at risk (89 centimeters).
Ethnic groupings have varying numbers. Getting a proper waist measurement from your physician is essential.
2. Exercise regularly
If you have high blood pressure, regular physical activity, such as 150 minutes a week or 30 minutes a day, can drop your blood pressure by 5 to 8 mm Hg. If you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again. It’s crucial to stay consistent.
Exercising can help people with high blood pressure avoid acquiring hypertension in the future. Regular physical activity can lower your blood pressure if you already have it.
Walking, running, cycling, swimming, or dancing are all excellent options for lowering blood pressure through cardiovascular exercise. High-intensity interval training, which alternates short bursts of intensive activity with subsequent recovery periods of lesser activity, is an additional option to consider. interval training. Blood pressure can be lowered by strength training as well. At least twice a week, incorporate strength training workouts. Talk to your doctor about setting up an exercise routine.
3. Eat a healthy diet
If you have high blood pressure, eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products can drop your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg. You might refer to it as the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
If you follow these recommendations, you can improve your eating habits and adopt a healthy diet:
- Keep a food journal to track your progress. In the course of just a week, tracking what you eat and writing it down can reveal some surprising truths about your eating habits. Keep track of what you eat, how much, when, and why you consume it.
- Potassium supplementation may be an option. Sodium can raise blood pressure, but potassium can lower it. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of potassium, rather than supplements. Consult your physician to determine the optimal potassium intake for you.
- Shop with discernment. Stick to your healthy-eating plan while you’re eating out and read food labels when you’re shopping.
4. Reduce sodium in your diet
Reduce your salt intake by as little as 5 to 6 milligrams per deciliter (mm Hg) if you suffer from high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is affected by salt intake in a variety of ways. Sodium intake should be kept to 2,300 mg or fewer per day as a rule of thumb. Most adults, on the other hand, benefit from a salt intake of 1,500 mg or less per day.
Consider the following tips to lower your salt intake:
- Food labels are there to tell you what you’re eating. It’s best to avoid high-sodium foods and beverages whenever you can.
- Reduce your intake of processed foods. In nature, sodium is present in very small amounts, therefore it’s best to avoid it. Processing is where the bulk of the sodium is added.
- Salt is unnecessary. The sodium content of a single tablespoon of salt is 2,300 milligrams. Add flavor to your dish using herbs and spices.
- Take it easy. If you’re not confident that you can reduce your sodium intake much over night, start with a smaller reduction and work your way up. Over time, your taste buds will adapt to the new foods that you eat.
5. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
Drinking alcohol can have both positive and negative effects on your body. You can potentially lower your blood pressure by roughly 4 millimeters Hg by drinking just in moderation — normally one drink per day for women and two for men. One alcoholic beverage is equal to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof booze.
However, if you consume too much alcohol, this protective effect is eliminated.
Overindulging in alcoholic beverages can result in an increase in blood pressure of up to several points. Blood pressure drugs may potentially be less effective as a result of it.
6. Quit smoking
Every time you light up, your blood pressure rises. This effect lasts for several minutes after you stop. Smoking cessation aids in the restoration of healthy blood pressure levels. The risk of heart disease is reduced and your general health is improved if you give up smoking. Quitters may have a better quality of life than non-quitters.
7. Cut back on caffeine
Caffeine’s effect on blood pressure is still a hot topic of discussion. Caffeine can elevate blood pressure by as much as 10 millimeters of mercury in those who don’t consume it very often. Those who consume coffee on a regular basis, however, may not notice an influence on their blood pressure at all.
When it comes to the long-term effects of caffeine on the blood pressure of those who use it, there is no conclusive evidence.
Check your blood pressure 30 minutes after consuming a caffeinated beverage to see if it raises your blood pressure. Caffeine can raise your blood pressure if your readings rise by 5 to 10 millimeters Hg. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about the impact of coffee on it.
8. Reduce your stress
High blood pressure is linked to chronic stress. The impact of persistent stress on blood pressure must be studied further. High blood pressure can be exacerbated by stress-related behaviors such as overeating, binge drinking, or smoking.
Spend some time reflecting on the things that are causing you stress, such as your job, your family, your finances, or a health issue. Once you’ve identified the source of your stress, you may work on reducing or eliminating it.
It’s possible to manage your stressors in a more healthy manner even if you can’t eliminate all of them. Try your best:
- Change the way you look at things. Make a schedule for the day and focus on what’s important. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential. Recognize that you have no control over some situations, but you do have power over how you respond to those things.
- Take control of the things you can control and work to resolve them. Talk to your supervisor if you’re having a problem at work. Take action if you’re having a disagreement with your children or spouse.
- Avoid stressors at all costs. When possible, try to avoid things that could be a trigger. As an example, if driving to work during rush hour causes you stress, consider leaving earlier in the morning or using public transit instead. If you can, avoid folks who bring you down.
- Allow yourself time to unwind and engage in activities you find enjoyable. Spend a few minutes each day focusing on your breathing. Make room in your calendar for activities that you enjoy, such as going for a stroll or making a meal.
- Gratitude is a practice that should be cultivated. Giving thanks can help alleviate some of the pressure you feel.
9. Monitor your blood pressure at home and see your doctor regularly=
Monitors for blood pressure at home can help you stay on top of potential health problems and make sure that your lifestyle adjustments are working. There is no need for a prescription to purchase a blood pressure monitor. Before you begin any home monitoring, speak with your doctor about your options.
Keeping an eye on your blood pressure requires that you see your doctor on a regular basis. To determine how often you should check your blood pressure, consult with your doctor. Depending on your doctor’s recommendation, you may be advised to check it once a day or once a week. Changing your medications or other treatments may need checking your blood pressure twice a week for the first two weeks and once a week for the week before your next checkup.
10. Get support
Good health can be improved with the help of supportive family and friends. For example, they may encourage you, transport you to the doctor’s office, or join you in an activity program to lower your blood pressure.
Consider joining a support group if you discover you need help beyond what you can get from your loved ones and friends. This could put you in touch with people who can provide you with emotional support and practical advice on how to deal with your illness.
17 Effective Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure
1. Increase activity and exercise more
Cardio and resistance training, according to a meta-analysis of 65 research, can considerably lower blood pressure, particularly in males (4Trusted Source).
A 2013 study found that sedentary older persons who did aerobic exercise training saw a reduction in their systolic and diastolic blood pressure of 3.9% and 4.5%, respectively (5). These results are comparable to the effects of several blood pressure medicines. ”
The more you exercise, the more your heart and lungs become stronger, allowing it to pump more efficiently. As a result, your arteries are relieved and your blood pressure is reduced.
What is the ideal level of physical activity for you?
A new research from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommends 40-minute sessions of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity three to four times a week (6Trusted Source).
It’s possible to get the benefits of 40 minutes by breaking it up into three or four 10- to 15-minute segments spread throughout the day (7Trusted Source).
Similar advice is offered by the American College of Sports Medicine (8).
Running marathons isn’t necessary, though. Increasing your activity level can be as simple as following these steps:
- Stairs are an option
- Taking the stairs instead of the car
- conducting errands around the house
- getting on two wheels
- taking part in a team activity
Do it on a regular basis and aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day.
Tai chi is an excellent example of a low-intensity exercise that yields significant results. Tai chi has been shown to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 15.6 mm Hg and 10.7 mm Hg, respectively, when compared to no exercise at all (9Trusted Source).
Combinations of exercise can help lower blood pressure, according to an analysis published in 2014. (10Trusted Source).
These workouts are comprised of the following:
- physical activity that increases your heart and lungs’ capacity
- training using a weight
- Interval training at a fast rate of speed
- intermittent periods of physical activity throughout the day.
- completing a mile of jogging every day
Even light physical activity, especially for the elderly, may nevertheless have health benefits, according to ongoing research (11).
2. Lose weight if you’re overweight
You can lower your blood pressure by reducing 5 to 10 pounds if you’re obese. You’ll also reduce your chances of developing other health issues as a result.
Blood pressure was shown to be decreased on average by 3.2 millimeters Hg in the diastolic range and 4.5 millimeters Hg in the systolic range when many studies were analyzed (12).
3. Cut back on sugar and refined carbohydrates
Restricting sugar and refined carbohydrates has been shown in numerous studies to aid weight loss and blood pressure reduction.
There is some evidence that fructose in particular may raise blood pressure more than salt, according to a review published in 2014. As long as the study was at least 8 weeks, the effect of sugar on blood pressure was 5.6% diastolic and 6.9% total (13).
Low-carb and low-fat diets reduced diastolic and systolic blood pressure in overweight and obese persons by an average of 5 mm Hg and 3 mm Hg, respectively, after six months of follow-up in a 2020 study comparing various common diets (14Trusted Source).
Because you’re ingesting more protein and fat on a low carb, low sugar diet, you’ll remain satiated for longer.
4. Eat more potassium and less sodium
Blood pressure can be lowered by increasing potassium intake and decreasing salt intake (15).
Both salt and blood vessel tension are eased by potassium, making it a two-for-one nutrient. Potassium-rich diets, on the other hand, may be detrimental to persons with kidney illness, so consult your physician before making any dietary changes.
It’s simple to increase your potassium intake. Potassium is found in a wide variety of foods. There are a few examples here, such as:
- Milk and yogurt, as well as other low-fat dairy products
- There are a variety of fruits that can be included in a healthy diet.
- fruits and vegetables such as a variety of veggies such as greens and spinach as well as sweet potatoes
Salt can have a variety of effects on different people. Blood pressure rises when a person consumes an excessive amount of salt, which is true for certain people. Those that are sensitive to salt aren’t the only ones. Their blood pressure will not rise if they consume a lot of salt and excrete it in large amounts in their urine (16).
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, recommended by the National Institutes of Health, encourages people to reduce their salt intake (17Trusted Source). The DASH diet places an emphasis on the following things:
- foods low in sodium
- fruits and vegetables
- low-fat milk products
- Wheat and barley
- Sugar and red meat consumption should be reduced.
5. Eat less processed food
Processed and restaurant foods are the main sources of your additional salt intake, not your own salt shaker at home (18Trusted Source). Among the most popular high-salt foods are:
- cured meats
- cans of food
- Snacks that have been processed
Salt and sugar are often added to low-fat foods to make up for the loss of fat. What makes food taste good and fills you up is the fat in it.
Limiting or eliminating processed food from your diet will help you consume fewer sodium, sugar, and refined carbs. All of this has the potential to reduce blood pressure levels.
Make it a habit to read the nutrition facts on the food you eat. On food labels, 5 percent or less of salt is considered low, while 20 percent or more is deemed high, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (19Trusted Source).
6. Stop smoking
Stopping smoking is beneficial to your overall health, despite the fact that it may be tough to do. Smoking raises your blood pressure and heart rate, but only for a short period of time (20).
In the long run, the chemicals in cigarettes can damage your blood vessel walls, cause inflammation, and constrict your arteries, all of which raise your blood pressure. Blood pressure rises as a result of clogged arteries.
Your blood vessels may be affected even if you’re exposed to secondhand smoke.
There was a significant drop in blood pressure among nonsmokers who could access smoke-free restaurants, bars, and workplaces compared to nonsmokers who couldn’t (21Trusted Source).
7. Reduce excess stress
We’re in a tense time right now. Demands at work and at home, as well as politics on the national and international levels, all add to the burden of stress. For your own health and your blood pressure, it is crucial to find measures to lessen your own stress.
The best method to relieve stress is to determine what works best for you. Take a walk, read a book, or watch a comedy to help you relax.
Systolic blood pressure can be decreased by listening to music on a regular basis (22).
In a 20-year research, regular sauna use was linked to a lower risk of heart-related deaths (23).
Another study from 2015 found that acupuncture can lower blood pressure on two different measures: systolic and diastolic (24).
Try meditation or yoga
Stress and blood pressure can be reduced by the practice of yoga, which generally incorporates breathing, posture, and meditation practices.
Comparing those who did yoga and those who did not showed diastolic and systolic blood pressure drops of 3.62 mm Hg and 4.17 mm Hg, respectively, according to a 2013 review.
Studies have shown that including breath control, postures, and meditation into a yoga practice is nearly twice as beneficial as excluding any of these components (25).
9. Eat some dark chocolate
Yes, those of you who are chocoholics: Studies have indicated that dark chocolate can help decrease blood pressure.
However, dark chocolate should include between 60% and 70% cacao. Eating one to two squares a day may help prevent heart disease by decreasing blood pressure and inflammation, according to an extensive assessment of studies on dark chocolate.
Flavonoids, which are found in chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa solids, are thought to have a role in the health benefits. The flavonoids aid in blood vessel dilation (or widening) (26).
10. Try these medicinal herbs
Many civilizations have traditionally relied on herbal medicines to cure a wide range of diseases.
It’s even been suggested that certain herbs could help lower blood pressure. However, further research is required to determine the most beneficial doses and components of the plants.
Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal supplements. Prescription drugs may interact with these products.
Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal supplements. Prescription drugs may interact with these products.
- Before taking herbal supplements, consult your doctor or pharmacist. To avoid possible drug interactions, you should avoid using these products.
- claws of a cat (Uncaria rhynchophylla)
- Juice made from celery (Apium graveolens)
- Hawthorn bushes from China (Crataegus pinnatifida)
- the root of the ginger
- dodder of enormous size (Cuscuta reflexa)
- The plantago of India (blond psyllium)
- twigs of maritime pine (Pinus pinaster)
- a river lily (Crinum glaucum)
- the roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
- A product derived from sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum)
- extract from tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum)
- Green and oolong tea (Camellia sinensis) in particular
- bark of an umbrella tree (Musanga cecropioides)
11. Make sure to get good, restful sleep
When you’re sleeping, your blood pressure usually drops. A lack of sleep can cause an increase in blood pressure.
Middle-aged people who are sleep deprived are more likely to develop high blood pressure (27Trusted Source).
Getting a decent night’s rest might be difficult for some people. The following are just a few of the various methods in which you can ensure a good night’s rest:
- Put yourself on a regular sleep schedule and stick to it.
- Before going to bed, take some time to unwind.
- Keep moving throughout the day.
- Avoid taking naps during the day.
- Your bedroom should be cozy.
Regularly sleeping less than seven hours per night and more than nine hours per night was linked to an elevated risk of high blood pressure in the 2010 nationwide Sleep Heart Health Study.
Long-term sleep deprivation has been related to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure (29).
12. Eat garlic or take garlic extract supplements
Garlic, whether in the form of a fresh bulb or an extract, is frequently used to decrease blood pressure.
A meta-analysis indicated that garlic supplements decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure in persons with high blood pressure by up to roughly 5 mm Hg and 2.5 mm Hg, respectively (30Trusted Source).
Time-released garlic extracts may have a bigger impact on blood pressure than conventional garlic powder tablets, according to a 2009 clinical trial (31).
13. Eat healthy high protein foods
People who eat more protein had a lower risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a 2014 study. High blood pressure was 40% less likely in those who ate an average of 100 grams of protein per day compared to those who ate low-protein diets (32).
Those who additionally incorporated regular fiber into their diet noticed a 60% reduction in their likelihood of developing the disease.
A high-protein diet, on the other hand, may not be suitable for everyone. Those who have kidney disease should use caution when driving. Talk to your doctor about it.
On most diets, consuming 100 grams of protein per day is rather simple.
Foods rich in protein include:
- tinned fish, such as salmon or tuna, in their own liquid
- Chicken breasts and other poultry
- legumes, such as kidney and lentil beans
- nut butters, such as peanut butter,
- Camembert, for example
Salmon has 22 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce portion, whereas chicken breast has 30 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce serving.
When it comes to vegetarian choices, most types of beans have between 7 and 10 grams of protein per half-cup meal. 8 grams of protein may be found in two tablespoons of peanut butter! (33).
14. Take these BP-lowering supplements
These blood pressure-lowering substances are widely accessible and have shown some promise in clinical trials:
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid
A diet rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as fish oil, can offer numerous benefits.
An average 4.5 mm Hg systolic and 3.0 mm Hg diastolic blood pressure drop was found in those using fish oil, according to a meta-analysis of the subject (34).
Additionally, this milk-derived protein complex may have a number of other health benefits, including decreasing blood pressure (35Trusted Source).
High blood pressure is associated with a deficit of magnesium. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to lower blood pressure in a meta-analysis (36).
You can lower your blood pressure by taking oral L-citrulline as a building block of protein (37Trusted Source).
15. Drink less alcohol
Even if you’re in good health, drinking might boost your blood pressure.
Drinking in moderation is essential. According to a 2006 study, each 10 grams of alcohol drank raises your blood pressure by 1 mm Hg (38). The amount of alcohol in a normal drink is 14 grams.
What’s the definition of a “standard” beverage? 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz distilled spirits (39Trusted Source).
For women, moderate drinking is defined as no more than one drink per day, whereas for men it is up to two drinks per day (40Trusted Source).
After 13 hours of drinking more than 30 grams of alcohol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure increased by 3.7 and 2.4 mm Hg, respectively, according to a review (41).
16. Consider cutting back on caffeine
Caffeine has a brief influence on your blood pressure, but it’s not a permanent one.
After drinking 32 ounces of either a caffeinated beverage or an energy drink, 18 participants saw their systolic blood pressure rise for two hours. Participants who had consumed caffeinated beverages saw a faster decline in blood pressure (42Trusted Source).
It is possible that some persons are more susceptible to the effects of coffee. Caffeine sensitivities may necessitate limiting your coffee intake, or switching to decaffeinated coffee.
Caffeine research, including its potential health advantages, is frequently featured in the media. There are several aspects to consider while deciding whether or not to reduce one’s calorie intake.
Caffeine’s ability to raise blood pressure is more pronounced if your blood pressure is already high, according to an older study. However, the findings of this study urged further investigation into the problem (43).
17. Take prescription medication
If your blood pressure continues to rise despite making these lifestyle modifications, your doctor may prescribe medication.
When combined with other risk factors, they have been shown to improve long-term outcomes (44Trusted Source). However, it may take some time to find the precise mix of medications that work best for your condition.
Consult your physician about the many drugs available and which ones could be most effective for you.