High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a dangerous condition. If left untreated, it can lead to stroke, heart attack, and/or kidney issues. A doctor might diagnose you with hypertension if your systolic blood pressure (the top number) exceeds 130 mmHg, or diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) exceeds 80mmHg. It is normal to have fluctuations throughout the day, however, 46% of all Americans have high blood pressure, even without activity or stress. This increases the risk of deadly problems like stroke and heart attacks. The risk is compounded for those with diabetes, high cholesterol, or those who smoke.
If you have high blood pressure, there’s no need to worry. A chat with your doctor will result in a treatment plan to solve your issue. There are also a lot of natural remedies you can implement to gradually get your blood pressure down to its optimum level.
- Swap Coffee for Green Tea
Some studies have shown that green tea catechins are able to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. The antioxidants in the tea add a health boost as well.
- Consume More Vitamin D
If you spend a considerable amount of time indoors, a vitamin D deficiency could be contributing to your high blood pressure.Vitamin D can be consumed through eating eggs and fish. It can also be created through exposing yourself to sunlight.
- Eat Chocolate
We all know that excessive consumption of anything, including chocolate, is harmful. However, numerous studies have shown that cocoa products and dark chocolate in particular can lower blood pressure due to the presence of flavonoids, a chemical that widens blood vessels. If you consume approximately 50g of dark chocolate per day, studies show that you could achieve a 2-3mm HT reduction in your blood pressure. Make sure, however, that you are eating chocolate with a large amount of cocoa and minimal dairy and sugar content as this will simply add to your problem through weight gain.
- Lose Weight
While this is easier said than done, for most people, losing weight is the best way to reduce high blood pressure. Even small amounts of weight loss can significantly reduce your blood pressure as there is less body mass for your heart to pump blood to. Beware of crash diets as they can often do more harm than good. For best results, be sure to follow a healthy diet with less calories that includes physical exercise.
- Eat More Potassium
Potassium is one of what seems like an endless list of nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. You can get a good dose of potassium by eating more bananas. When you eat more, your blood pressure goes down which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. This goes hand in hand with eating more fruit and vegetables which give your body the nutrients it needs, lowers cholesterol, and helps you lose weight.
- Exercise More
It doesn’t matter whether you walk more, run regularly, go for a ride on a bike, or visit the gym, exercise is important. The more you exercise, the lower your blood pressure. By doing just thirty minutes of exercise each day, you can reduce your blood pressure by 4-9mm HT.
- Drink Less Alcohol
Alcohol in small doses does provide some health benefits, including lowering your blood pressure. But when you consume alcohol in large quantities, it has the opposite effect. Moderate drinking is recommended to ensure your blood pressure is kept under control which means two drinks per day for men under the age of 65 and one drink per day for women and for men over the age of 65. Not only that, but alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of some medications you might be taking to help reduce your blood pressure and contribute to weight gain, a risk factor for high blood pressure.
- Drink Less Coffee
Drinking less coffee will help reduce blood pressure, as will drinking less caffeine in general. If you rarely consume caffeine, you can see an increase in 10mm HT if you begin drinking it as caffeine causes a dramatic spike in blood pressure. Avoid caffeine as much as possible, or cut it out completely if you are struggling with hypertension.
- Eat More Garlic
Garlic has been shown in numerous studies to lower blood pressure and do wonders for your heart. The root contains a sulfur compound that is released when it is crushed or broken down. It is thought that this compound may reduce the narrowing of arteries and in turn reduce blood pressure. You can buy garlic extract which can be taken daily or simply incorporate more garlic into your diet. In other words, eat more Italian food.
- Eat More Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to the body. It helps cell regeneration and the growth of healthy hair. Of course, these fatty acids do much more than that, including helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure level. Research has shown that the omega-3 fatty acid, known as DHA, taken in combination with omega-6 essential fatty acids, such as primrose or flaxseed oil, can help reduce blood pressure and protect your heart. Consuming a lot of fish and other foods containing DHA is a great preventative of high blood pressure when combined with a generally healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, and regular exercise.
When lifestyle changes, such as those noted above, aren’t enough, prescription drugs can help reduce hypertension. However, according to the American Heart Association, almost half of all Americans find that medications and lifestyle changes simply aren’t enough.
If you are one of those, there are two new therapies being tested that could help.
The SPYRAL trial is trying a new therapy which targets the nerves in the kidney responsible for signaling the brain. These nerves play a role in raising blood pressure. During the procedure, a small opening is made in the groin to gain access to blood vessels in the kidney using a catheter. A device is then used to change these nerves around the kidney artery to reduce the signals they send to the brain. Recent research shows that this therapy, called renal denervation, can reduce blood pressure an average of 10 points, a significant positive change.
The CALM trial targets a different area responsible for regulating blood pressure. This technique looks at the carotid artery, the main artery in the neck. Microscopic sensors in the wall of this vital artery sense blood pressure levels and signal the brain if those levels get too high. Here, a catheter is positioned in the carotid artery and a small device is inserted to manipulate the signals to the brain, resulting in a lowering of the blood pressure.
Hypertension has no obvious symptoms. This is why it is called the “silent killer.” The best first step is to discover your blood pressure and then talk with your doctor about controlling your hypertension, if necessary.