High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
7 Home Remedies for Managing High Blood Pressure
What Is High Blood Pressure?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), high blood pressure (hypertension) affects more than 76 million American adults. High blood pressure is known as a “silent killer” since many people don’t have any visible symptoms and are subsequently unaware that they are affected by the condition. Blood pressure is the force or pressure in which blood pumps from the heart into the arteries. When blood pressure is high, the increased force of blood flow puts a strain on the arterial walls, causing them to become scarred and damaged.
The Risks of High Blood Pressure
When left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to many serious health complications, such as stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, and vision loss. Regular visits to your healthcare provider can help you monitor and control your blood pressure. According to the AHA, a healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHg. A reading of 140/90 mmHg or above is considered high. If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will work with you on how to lower it. This may include medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of therapies. Taking the following steps can help bring your numbers down.
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercising 30 to 60 minutes a day can help bring down your blood pressure numbers by 4 to 9 mmHg. If you’ve been inactive for a while, talk to your doctor about a safe exercise routine. Start out slowly by walking or riding a bicycle. Gradually add moderate intensity activities to your routine. Not a fan of the gym? Take your workout outside. Go for a hike, jog, or swim and still reap the benefits. The important thing is to get moving! The AHA also recommends incorporating at least two days of muscle strength training a week.
Mom is always right, especially when it comes to eating your fruits and vegetables. Following the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) can lower your blood pressure by as much as 14 mmHg. The DASH diet consists of eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and fish. Eliminate foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol, such as processed foods, whole milk dairy products, fatty meats, and fried food.
Slow Down On the Salt
If you have high blood pressure, keeping your sodium intake to a minimum is vital. The AHA recommends limiting your sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day. That’s a little over half a teaspoon. One teaspoon of table salt has 2,400 mg of sodium! Table salt isn’t the only culprit when it comes to high sodium; processed food and many restaurant dishes tend to be loaded with sodium. Consuming too much sodium can cause the body to retain fluid, resulting in a sharp rise in blood pressure.
Lose Excess Weight
Weight and blood pressure go hand in hand. Losing just five pounds can help lower your blood pressure. It’s not just the number on your scale that matters, but the number of your waist size. The extra fat around your waist, called visceral fat, is troublesome because the fat tends to surround organs in the abdomen, which can lead to health issues including high blood pressure. Men should keep their waist measurement to less than 40 inches, while women should aim for less than 35 inches.
Nix Your Nicotine Addiction
Studies show that smoking a cigarette can temporarily raise blood pressure 10 mmHg or more for up to an hour after you smoke. If you’re a heavy smoker, your blood pressure can stay elevated for extended periods of time. People with high blood pressure who smoke are at greater risk for developing dangerously high blood pressure. Even secondhand smoke can put you at increased risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
Drinking a glass of red wine with your dinner is perfectly fine and may even offer heart health benefits when done in moderation. Drinking alcohol in excess, however, can lead to many adverse health issues, including high blood pressure. What does drinking in moderation mean? The AHA recommends limiting alcoholic drinks to two per day for men and one per day for women.
In this hurried, multitasking society we live in, it’s hard to slow down and relax. It’s important to step away from your daily stress and take a few deep breaths, meditate, or practice yoga. Stress can temporarily raise your blood pressure, and too much of it can keep your pressure up for extended periods of time. Try to identify what’s triggering your stress, such as your job, relationships, or your finances, and find ways to fix the problems.
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- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Lifestyle and Home Remedies. (2012, August 3). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 16, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/DS00100/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies
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- Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. (2013, March 1). American Heart Association. Retrieved October 16, 2013, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp