Facing high blood pressure can be a worrying prospect. Caused by increased pressure on the walls of the arteries, hypertension places added strain on your heart, which can lead to serious, and even fatal medical conditions including heart disease, kidney failure and stroke. Fortunately, a few simple measures can help reduce your blood pressure down to normal levels and greatly improve your overall health. Here are five of your best options:
If you’ve got high blood pressure, it’s quite likely that your diet played a major role in its development. Trading your bad eating habits for heart-healthy options could help to reverse much of the damage caused by hypertension. Eating foods rich in potassium and omega-3 fats have been proven to improve overall heart health. Too much salt will damage your heart, so be sure to read food labels and watch out for products with high sodium content. If you still need the extra flavor, try seasoning your food with herbs and spices instead of salt.
Dietary changes become much more effective if they are coupled with the right lifestyle adjustments. The Mayo Clinic suggests between 30 and 60 minutes of daily physical exercise for people trying to lower their blood pressure. Obese or overweight people are strongly advised to shed excess weight as it is often directly linked to blood pressure. Cutting out smoking and limiting your alcohol consumption can also help to accelerate the process.
Stress can cause your blood pressure to temporarily rise and can over time exacerbate hypertension and lead to heart disease. Be sure to sleep well each night and avoid overworking. You should also set some time each day for personal relaxation doing something you enjoy, such as reading or chatting with friends. If there are underlying issues causing you concern, you may wish to seek out counseling from a professional.
Since high blood pressure is often symptomless, it can cause serious harm before it is even diagnosed. Known as the “silent killer”, many people can go years without diagnosing their hypertension, according to the American Heart Association, so regular checkups are essential for identifying and managing high blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, visit your doctor regularly to track your progress.
If the natural approach doesn’t help, or your blood pressure is at dangerously high levels, there are a range of medications designed to control and reduce your hypertension. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may prescribe medication, but the first course of action will usually be diuretics. These work by flushing the water and sodium out of your body, thus lowering blood pressure. Other drugs, such as beta blockers or renin inhibitors may be used in conjunction with diuretics to reduce hypertension more rapidly.