High Blood Pressure, or Hypertension, is one of the leading health problems in our society. There are many different types of excellent medications we have to help lower blood pressure; however, I like to encourage NON-MEDICATION ways of lowering blood pressure as the first step for my patients. [Of course, if your blood pressure is very high, sometimes we have to use medicines first to get you in a safe zone in conjunction with alternative strategies]
BLOOD PRESSURE NUMBERS:
Below are some alternative strategies to help you lower your blood pressure.
Obesity/Overweight and hypertension have a strong relationship. Weight loss significantly helps lower blood pressure. Studies show that losing 8Kg of weight results in blood pressure drops of 8.5 points in your Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP–the TOP number of your blood pressure reading) and 6.5 points in your Diastolic Blood Pressure (DBP–the BOTTOM number of your blood pressure reading).
All forms of excercising including Aerobic (cardiovascular excercise), Dynamic Resistence, and Isometric Handgrips have been shown to help with lowering of blood pressure. Excercising alone can help lower your blood pressure readings by 3.5 points on the SBP and 2.5 points on the DBP.
REDUCE SALT AND SODIUM!
Sodium or Salt can increase your blood pressure. Unfortunately, in general our diet is quite high in salt. There are many different sources of salt that we need to be aware of. Table salt or salt we add to our foods is a definite source, but there are many foods that are inherently high in salt. Foods such as: deli meats, cold cuts, canned foods, and soups are to name a few. Processed and packaged foods are also very high in salt/sodium. As a general rule, any food that has to stay fresh for a prolonged period of time until you are ready to eat it, is high in sodium/salt because salt is a natural preservative. So try to avoid microwave dinners, frozen meals, and canned foods OR look for Low Salt/Sodium versions of these foods. Eating and cooking fresh is the best way to go!
Eating out at restaurants can also open you to getting foods high in sodium. Foods with a lot of spices, marinades, sauces have high sodium. Certain cuisines are inherently high in sodium/salt such as Thai, Chinese, and Indian to name a few.
Aside from increasing your blood pressure, high sodium can lead to fluid retention and cause bloating and swelling especially in your ankles and feet. Avoiding the salt will help keep that fluid weight away and help some weight loss as well!
When we are trying to lower blood pressure through salt/sodium restriction, I recommend my patients to read the food lables of all their food and drinks and have a goal of getting LESS than 1500mg of sodium a day.
You can also check out the DASH diet website as it is a great source of information on foods and recipes to help lower your blood pressure.
LOWER YOUR CAFFEINE!
Caffeine is a stimulant and all stimulants can lead to high blood pressure. In our fast paced soceity, we rely on outside sources to give us a little boost! Caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, energy drinks, and pills can all negatively affect your blood pressure.
Getting enough sleep is very important to help your mind and body restore itself. There are many important chemical and metabolic reactions that happen during your sleep which are essential to keep your body functioning at its best. Lack of sleep or not getting good quality sleep are risk factors for problems with your blood pressure.
If you snore at night, toss and turn, have difficulty falling asleep, or wake up in the morning and do not feel well rested from your sleep, you should speak to your doctor about getting tested for Sleep Apnea or other sleep disorders.
Easier said than done! But this is so important in managing your blood pressure. Increased stress and anxiety definetely raises your blood pressure.
Below are a few techniques to try to help with stress reduction:
2. Relaxation and deep breathing–studies have shown that in stressful situations, stopping and taking deep breaths and counting slowly from 1 to 10 in fact helps you through the stress.
6. Prioritizing tasks–yes, everything is important and everything has to get done, but not right now. So reevaluate your tasks and really prioritize them and tackle them one at a time.
7. Delegating–although you are the best at doing it, you really can’t do it all so get help and learn to let go and delegate!