Myth: “If you inherit hypertension, there’s nothing you can do about it.” Years ago, this dictum was taken as the truth by people. But times have changed, bringing in some more awareness around this condition. While it is nearly impossible to prevent inheriting hypertension, you can manage it and avert its health risks. But are medicines the only answer?
When discussing how to lower high blood pressure, we often debate whether we over-rely on medicines. But the truth is that hypertension can be a lifelong disease, and you may have to take daily doses of your medication for the rest of your life. It’s worth it to protect your heart. But while medicines are critical for keeping BP in check, they aren’t the only way to stay hypertension-risk-free. In fact, there is much you can do to lower high blood pressure. And a little dose of lifestyle changes might hold the key.
Though there isn’t a foolproof medication for complete high blood pressure treatment, this article explores methods and measures to reduce high blood pressure, offering insights from experts. But before we dive into the primary matter, let’s first take a quick glance at BP readings; the normal and the not-so-normal range.
Understanding blood pressure readings
|Blood pressure category||Systolic mm Hg(upper number)||Diastolic mm Hg (lower number)|
|Normal||Less than 120||Less than 80|
|Elevated||120 – 129||Less than 80|
|Hypertension stage I||130 – 139||80 – 89|
|Hypertension stage II||140 or higher||90 or higher|
|Hypertensive crisis(consult a doctor immediately)||Higher than 180||Higher than 120|
Note: If your BP is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision or difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Visit a doctor near you.
Ways to lower high blood pressure
High BP is a cumulative result of factors including age, genetics, obesity, a high-salt diet, and lack of exercise. Thus, it makes sense that once you take control of these aspects of your life, you also take control of your BP. Let’s dig in deeper.
- Exercising daily
Physical activity is good for the heart. You can try aerobic and resistance exercises to reduce blood pressure significantly. As you regularly increase your breathing and heart rates, your heart gets stronger and pumps with less effort. This means your arteries experience lesser pressure, lowering your blood pressure as well. But you don’t have to go to the gym every day. Getting some physical activities into your life can be as simple as:
- Using the stairs
- Walking instead of driving
- Doing household chores
- Gardening and lifting pots
- Going for a bike ride
- Playing a team sport
- Losing weight
With more body weight, your blood pressure can rise. Losing 5 to 10 kgs is one way how you can lower high blood pressure levels if you’re overweight. Even a slight weight change can make a big difference in helping to prevent hypertension risks.
And losing weight is a double winner, as this way, you’ll lower your risk of other potential medical problems.
- Reducing refined carbs, sugar, and salt intake
It is commonly known that limiting salt-laden foods helps reduce high blood pressure levels. But, even limiting sugar has the same effects. In fact, sugar may increase your blood pressure more than salt. So cutting back on it means better results for you.
- Minimise stress in life
When you’re very stressed, your body produces a surge of hormones. These hormones temporarily increase your BP by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow down.
However, there’s no proof that stress causes long-term high blood pressure. But finding ways to reduce stress is vital for your health and blood pressure.
- Practice mindfulness yoga
Yoga is a mind-body therapy based on movement, and it may provide a range of health benefits. And reducing BP levels is one of them for specific individuals. Results of small studies suggest that yoga may modestly lower high blood pressure.
- Get good sleep
The lesser you give yourself some sleep, the higher your blood pressure may go. Studies show that people who sleep six hours or less may have steeper increases in BP. If you already have high BP, not sleeping well may make readings worse.
It’s thought that sleep helps your body control hormones needed to regulate stress and metabolism.
An alarming number of people have high blood pressure. Known medically as hypertension, many people don’t even know they have it because high blood pressure has no symptoms or warning signs. Fortunately, it can be detected early if you keep checking your BP levels regularly. Once detected early, effective management is possible with lifestyle modifications and perhaps even without medication.
A slight change goes a long way. Inculcating a few healthy habits in your daily routine improves your health and keeps many lifestyle conditions away. Keep in touch with your doctor to check your BP, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels to stay on top of your health, and never be surprised by Hypertension. If you have already noticed your blood pressure levels rising, visit an expert as soon as possible to learn about what lifestyle changes will work in your case and make managing hypertension easier or avoid it altogether.