Did you know that high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure? So why not do something about it now.
In the United States, more than 40 million people have chronic hypertension. That’s a scary number because it’s the leading cause of heart disease, strokes and kidney failure in the country.
It is important to lower your blood pressure to prevent a stroke or heart attack. It is easy to find information about managing your hypertension, but it can be overwhelming with the amount of information available on the subject.
This article helps you choose 10 proven ways to lower blood pressure quickly and easily.
What causes high blood pressure
High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is a common problem that affects millions of people in the United States. It often runs the risk of becoming a serious health condition, requiring attention from your doctor and medications to treat.
There are three primary causes of high blood pressure:
Stress: Stress is probably the number one cause of high blood pressure in the U.S. today because stress can trigger both heart disease and high blood pressure.
Stress hormones can raise blood pressure by contributing to an increase in the body’s production of certain chemicals that constrict blood vessels and make them more sensitive to blood pressure-raising signals from nerves.
When these chemicals are released, blood vessels tighten up even more, making it easier for your heart to work harder. These hormonal changes can have an impact on every organ in your body, including your brain.
Heart disease: This is the most common cause of high blood pressure. The arteries that carry blood away from your heart become narrower over time, increasing the strain on the heart. This can lead to a number of complications, including heart attacks, or sudden death.
Obesity: Excess weight puts strain on the body’s circulatory system. Even if you’re not overweight, you may have extra pounds on your frame due to age or genetics.
If you’re carrying extra pounds around your middle, it will put extra stress on your blood vessels and increase your chances for developing high blood pressure
Age: The more years you’ve spent alive, the more likely you are to develop high blood pressure – as well as other chronic conditions like diabetes and arthritis that can also contribute to its development.
Salt sensitivity: The most common cause of high blood pressure is a condition called salt sensitivity. This means that people who have a genetic predisposition to it may become hypertensive when their kidneys don’t filter enough salt out of their bodies.
But there are other causes, including heavy smoking, pregnancy, excessive alcohol use and stress.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
If you’re at risk for heart disease, you should know what to look for. It’s not always easy to recognize the signs of high blood pressure, but knowing the symptoms can help you to spot them early and – if needed – get treatment.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
You feel light-headed when you stand up too quickly or go from lying on your left side to sitting up. You may feel dizzy after eating salty or greasy foods, especially when you exercise.
You have shortness of breath while doing physical activity. Your blood pressure is higher than normal after eating salty or greasy foods. You feel tired or weak during the day and at night. You have a persistent headache that does not go away with sleep.
here are some other signs of high blood pressure:
- Dry, irritated eyes
- Upset stomach
- Back or joint pain
- Dizziness or fainting spells
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Bloating from fluid accumulation in your abdomen (called ascites)
- Changes in vision (such as blurry vision and blurriness in your arms when you raise them)
If you have high blood pressure, you know how it feels. You feel overwhelmed at home or work and can’t seem to get your mind off the job of keeping yourself healthy. Some people are able to live with their high blood pressure for years, but others may not realize that it’s a serious condition.
Your doctor will want to know more about your medical history and give you a physical exam to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms. High blood pressure doesn’t have any obvious symptoms, so you may have had it for years without even knowing it.
10 tricks to lower high blood pressure
Here are a few tips from Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Connecticut:
1) Manage your stress
Stress management is one of the best ways to reduce stress levels and keep your body relaxed. Try exercise or yoga, learn relaxation exercises like deep breathing or meditation, or consider seeing a therapist who specializes in stress management. Reduce the amount of time you spend doing stressful activities such as checking email or obsessing over work.
2) Exercise regularly
This lowers your blood pressure because it gets your heart rate up and helps you burn calories. As a result, blood circulates smoothly through your blood vessels.
3) Move around
Try moving around every half-hour or so for at least 30 minutes one or two days a week. Not only will this help you burn calories, but it also increases your heart rate and helps you get more oxygen into your cells, which lowers blood pressure.
4) Eat a healthy diet
Eat food that is low in salt and saturated fat, which raises blood pressure. Cut back on salt by eating less processed foods like frozen dinners, canned soup and snack foods that have added salt or sodium.
5) Avoid overdoing caffeine
Stop overdoing caffeine (including sodas), which can raise blood pressure. Skip the coffee after dinner and drink no more than two cups per day instead of five cups per day. Limit the amount of caffeine you take in throughout the day by drinking decaffeinated varieties of tea and coffee, taking green tea supplements or drinking herbal teas instead of caffeine.
6) Quit smoking
Quitting smoking reduces stress and improves your overall health. Of course, you don’t need to quit completely if you have health problems that make this difficult, but doing so can help reduce your blood pressure.
Quitting smoking is a great start, but it’s not enough to keep blood pressure in check. The best way to preserve good health is to manage your weight. Keeping healthy weight can lower your blood pressure, and regular exercise will help keep the weight off.
7) Take prescription medicines
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension), the first thing you’ll want to know is how to lower it. Often that means taking prescription medications — some of which can have unpleasant side effects. It might seem like a lot to take in at first — but if you take your medication as directed, it should help keep your blood pressure under control and protect your health.
8) Stay away from the processed food
When you hear the term “processed food,” what do you think of?
Twinkies? French fries? Mountain Dew?
You’re not wrong — but there’s more to it than that. Processed food is any food that has been altered in some way before it gets to your plate. Most of the time, this means adding preservatives and artificial sweeteners to increase shelf life and flavor.
If you have high blood pressure, you probably know that processed food is bad for your health — but did you know that it can also be bad for your blood pressure? If you want to lower your high blood pressure, then you have to avoid eating processed food.
9) Try eating dark chocolate
Eating dark chocolate can help lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study by the American Chemical Society.
The study suggests that a substance in cocoa beans called flavanols can help decrease blood pressure, which is great news for people with hypertension or prehypertension — conditions that affect about 75 million Americans.
However, before you go out and buy a bar of chocolate, it’s important to know that not all chocolate is created equal. Flavanols are found naturally in cocoa beans, so to reap their benefits, you’ll have to eat dark chocolate. Chocolate bars with higher percentages of cocoa solids contain more flavanols than milk chocolate bars.
Cocoa (or cacao) powder also has flavanols in it, although be aware that it doesn’t taste as good as actual chocolate! Finally, some companies make products like chocolates, drinks and spreads with added flavanols or polyphenolic compounds that help decrease blood pressure.
10) Get good restful sleep
Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle – just as important as eating right and exercising. Not only can a good night’s sleep improve your mood and concentration, it may be the secret to lowering high blood pressure.
How much sleep do you need? Most adults should aim for 7 to 8 hours each night. Teens need more sleep—about 9 1/2 hours every night. Kids need even more—10 to 11 hours!
The most important thing you can do is make sure you get enough rest every night. Keep these tips in mind:
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Don’t take daytime naps after 3 p.m., and don’t stay up too late on weekends. Use your weekend mornings to catch up instead.
Get rid of things in your bedroom that might disturb your sleep, like noise or light from a TV or computer, or even a pet that likes to snuggle with you in bed. Try some “white noise” instead, like a fan or a sound machine that plays calming sounds or music to block out any distractions.
Try not to drink caffeine after 2 p.m., and limit alcohol to just one drink a day. Both can make it harder for you to get a restful sleep.