High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
Take Down Hypertension: How to Reduce Your High Blood Pressure
What Is Hypertension?
Hypertension (or high blood pressure) is often called a “silent killer.” You may have hypertension without even knowing it because it often doesn’t present any symptoms. A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 mm Hg or under, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
The upper number (120) is the systolic measurement. Systolic pressure is the maximum pressure in your arteries. The lower number (80) is the diastolic measurement. Diastolic pressure is the minimum pressure in your arteries. A reading between 120/80 mm Hg and 139/89 mm Hg is considered “prehypertension.” A reading of 140/90 mm Hg is considered to be high blood pressure.
It’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor. You can take steps to reduce high blood pressure if needed.
What Causes Hypertension?
Causes of hypertension include genetics, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, high sodium intake, alcohol, and certain medications. Your risk increases with age because the artery walls lose their elasticity.
High blood pressure without a known cause is called essential or primary hypertension. Hypertension caused by kidney disease or another medical condition is called secondary hypertension.
The DASH Diet
The Heart and Stroke Foundation endorses the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet for reducing hypertension. DASH promotes healthy nutrition with more vegetables, fruits, and foods low in fat and cholesterol.
Reduce Your Sodium
The Mayo Clinic says that reducing your sodium intake can lower your blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg. Sodium causes the body to retain fluids and increases pressure in the blood vessel walls. You should limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) or less daily.
Limit your daily sodium intake to 1,500 mg if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. You should also limit your sodium intake to this amount if you are above 51 years old or are of African-American descent.
Potassium is an important mineral that helps control sodium in the body. The American Heart Association Institute says that a diet high in natural sources of potassium can help control high blood pressure. The recommended daily level of potassium intake is 4,700 mg.
You can increase your potassium with foods such as the following:
- white beans
- white and sweet potatoes
- greens, such as spinach
- dried apricots
- orange juice
Talk to your doctor about the appropriate potassium intake for you. Too much potassium can be harmful for individuals diagnosed with certain medical conditions.
High doses of vitamin C may help reduce high blood pressure, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Vitamin C has a diuretic effect that removes excess fluid from the body, which may also help relax blood vessel walls.
The recommended vitamin C daily dosage is 500 mg. Consult with your doctor before buying supplements or increasing your normal vitamin C consumption.
A 2013 study found that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to hypertension. It suppresses certain hormone levels and is an anti-inflammatory.
Talk to your doctor about your vitamin D levels and discuss whether vitamin D supplements can help with your high blood pressure.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance produced by the human body that is important for the proper function of cells in the body. Low CoQ10 levels have been reported in people with hypertension according to the Mayo Clinic. It is unclear whether or not low CoQ10 levels are an actual cause of hypertension. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database has classified CoQ10 as “possibly effective” for treating hypertension.
CoQ10 is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) supplement. Talk with your doctor before taking it about whether it would be a helpful treatment for you.
Acupuncture has been used for centuries to heal the body and soul. It’s also used for stress relief and for promoting relaxation. The National Institutes of Health report that it may affect the chemicals in the body that regulate blood pressure.
A recent study found that acupuncture helped significantly lower blood pressure when used in combination with medications for hypertension.
Connected with Your Healthcare Provider
Healthy blood pressure levels are important for lowering your chances of developing heart disease and staying healthy. Have your blood pressure checked regularly in order to ensure that your blood pressure is stable. Be sure to review your medication dosages with your healthcare provider as well.
- 10 ways to control high blood pressure without
medication. (2012, July 19). Mayo Clinic.
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- Big Doses of Vitamin C May Lower Blood Pressure. (2012, April 18). Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved November 14, 2013, from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/big_doses_of_vitamin_c_may_lower_blood_pressure
- Cevik, C. & Işeri, S.O. (2013). The effect of acupuncture on high blood pressure of patients using antihypertensive drugs. Acupunct Electrother Res., 38(1-2), 1-15. Retrieved November 14, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23724695
- Coenzyme Q10: Evidence. (2012, September 1). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 14, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/coenzyme-q10/NS_patient-coenzymeq10/DSECTION=evidence
- Hagberg, J.M. et al. (2000). The Role of Exercise Training in the Treatment of Hypertension: An Update. Sports Med, 30(3), 193-206. Retrieved November 14, 2013, from http://www.indiana.edu/~k662/articles/htn/hagberg%20bp%20review%202000.pdf
- Juraschek, S.P. et al. (2012, May). Effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95(5), 1079-1088. Retrieved November 8, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3325833/
- Kienreich, K. et al. (2013, April). Vitamin D, arterial hypertension & cerebrovascular disease. Indian J Med Res, 137, 669-679. Retrieved November 8, 2013, from http://www.icmr.nic.in/ijmr/2013/April/0402.pdf
- Physical Activity and Blood Pressure, Step 5: Prevention and Treatment. (2013, March 26). American Heart Association. Retrieved November 14, 2013, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Physical-Activity-and-Blood-Pressure_UCM_301882_Article.jsp
- Potassium and High Blood Pressure, Step 5: Prevention and Treatment. (2012, August 27). American Heart Association. Retrieved November 14, 2013, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Potassium-and-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_303243_Article.jsp
- The DASH Diet to lower high blood pressure. (2013, August). Heart & Stroke Foundation. Retrieved November 8, 2013, from http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3862329/k.4F4/Healthy_living__The_DASH_Diet_to_lower_blood_pressure.htm
- What Are High Blood Pressure and Prehypertension? (n.d.). National, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved November 14, 2013, from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/hbp/whathbp.htm
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