Consider Cutting Back On Caffeine
Caffeine raises your blood pressure, but the effect is temporary.
In a 2017 study, the systolic blood pressure of 18 participants was elevated for 2 hours after they drank 32 ounces of either a caffeinated drink or an energy drink. Blood pressure then dropped more quickly for the participants who drank a caffeinated drink .
Some people may be more sensitive to caffeine than others. If youre caffeine-sensitive, you may want to cut back on your coffee consumption, or try .
Research on caffeine, including its health benefits, is in the news a lot. The choice of whether to cut back depends on many individual factors.
One older study indicated that caffeines effect on raising blood pressure is greater if your blood pressure is already high. This same study, however, called for more research on the subject .
If your blood pressure is very high or doesnt decrease after making these lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend prescription drugs.
They work and will improve your long-term outcome, especially if you have other risk factors (
Reducing Your Salt Intake
The American Heart Association recommends no more than a teaspoon of salt a day for adults. That may sound alarmingly small, but there are many painless ways to reduce your sodium intake.
Reduce canned and processed foods. Much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods like soups, convenience meals, and fast food.
Cook more meals at home. Preparing your own meals gives you more control over your sodium intake. Use fresh ingredients whenever possible and cook without salt.
Use spices as alternatives to salt. Try fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or chives, or dried spices such as allspice, bay leaves, or cumin to flavor your meal without sodium.
Substitute reduced sodium versions. Choose your condiments and packaged foods carefully, looking for foods labeled sodium free, low sodium, or unsalted.
See Heart-Healthy Diet Tips to learn more.
The effects on your blood pressure
- Adopting the DASH diet, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, and reducing your consumption of unhealthy fats can lower your blood pressure by about 11 mm Hg.
- Cutting back on sodium by about 1,000 mg per day can reduce your blood pressure by 5 to 6 mm Hg.
- Increasing your potassium intake from food to 3,500-5,000 mg can knock 4 to 5 mm Hg off your reading.
- Limiting your alcohol intake to two drinks per day if youre male, or one drink per day if youre female can lower your reading by about 4 mm Hg.
How Is Resistant Hypertension Diagnosed
- Full history and physical exam, which includes letting your doctor know about all medications and supplements, whether they are prescription, over-the-counter, herbal or recreational. Its important to mention if you skip doses of daily medicines.
- True measurement of your blood pressure using correct technique and calibrated equipment.
- Home blood pressure measurement during the day and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring to record your blood pressure throughout a regular day. It may be used if your physician suspects your blood pressure readings in the office dont tell the whole story.
- Tests for secondary conditions, which may include special blood work and imaging studies. Identifying and treating these conditions may eliminate hypertension or at least make it more treatable.
- Tests for organ damage caused by hypertension, which may include:
- Electrocardiogram to measure your hearts size and rhythm
- Echocardiogram to measure your hearts size and function
- Fundoscopic eye exam to check for damaged blood vessels inside the eye these tiny blood vessels come in from the brain and are a unique opportunity for your doctor to judge the health of similar blood vessels in your brain, heart and kidneys
- Urinalysis to check for kidney damage
- Other blood tests
- Chest X-ray
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Reduce Your Sodium Intake
Itâs a prime offender in raising blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends that people with hypertension keep it under 1,500 milligrams a day. Check your food labels to see how much youâre getting. If you cut back gradually, youâre less likely to notice the difference. Limiting sodium to just 2,400 milligrams per day can lower your number 2 to 8 points.
One way to cut back is to prepare your food at home. Seventy-five percent of your sodium intake comes from eating out and packaged foods. Use more spices for flavor instead of salt. Eating more potassium helps move sodium out of your body. A small effort can bring blood pressure down as much as two to eight points.
Ways to cut out sneaky salt and add healthy flavor:
- Read labels. Look for “salt,” “sodium,” “sea salt,” and “kosher salt.”
- Rinse salty canned food such as beans or tuna before using it.
- Substitute herbs and spices for sodium and salt when cooking.
- Avoid instant or flavored side dishes, which usually have a lot of added sodium. Instead, try cooking plain rice, pasta, or grains without adding salt. You can add other flavorings or a bit of salt when you serve them.
- Look for “low sodium” on food labels.
Eat Healthy High Protein Foods
A long-term study concluded in 2014 found that people who ate more protein had a lower risk of high blood pressure. For those who ate an average of 100 grams of protein per day, there was a 40 percent lower risk of having high blood pressure than those on a low protein diet .
Those who also added regular fiber into their diet saw up to a 60 percent reduction of risk.
However, a high protein diet may not be for everyone. Those with kidney disease may need to use caution. Its best to talk with your doctor.
Its fairly easy to consume 100 grams of protein daily on most types of diets.
A 3.5-ounce serving of salmon can have as much as 22 grams of protein, while a 3.5-ounce serving of chicken breast might contain 30 grams of protein.
With regard to vegetarian options, a half-cup serving of most types of beans contains 7 to 10 grams of protein. Two tablespoons of peanut butter would provide 8 grams .
These supplements are readily available and have demonstrated promise for lowering blood pressure:
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid
A meta-analysis of fish oil and blood pressure found a mean blood pressure reduction in those with high blood pressure of 4.5 mm Hg systolic and 3.0 mm Hg diastolic .
This protein complex derived from milk may have several health benefits in addition to possibly lowering blood pressure .
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The Move: Interval Training
To strengthen the hearts ability to handle high blood pressure and heart rate, Nash recommends high-intensity interval training.
But when I say high-intensity interval training, I dont mean anyone with a heart condition should be signing up for the nearest F45 class, she hastens to add. Completing a 10-second effort at a perceived exertion level of six to seven out of 10, followed by 50 seconds of complete rest and repeating a couple of times, will hit the mark while allowing the body to recover quickly. The easiest way to do this is on a bike, Nash says.
If doing longer spurts of activity, Spence recommends a lower intensity level that feels light to moderate around two to four out of 10.
Cardio-based activity helps improve blood flow around the heart, she says but strength training is also important, as it can build muscle as well as improving self-confidence to perform activities of daily living.
Nash agrees, saying: The importance of exercise is to increase the efficiency of the muscles to de-load the heart. A strong muscle is an efficient muscle.
Talk With Your Doctor
High blood pressure is a serious condition that requires treatment to prevent more severe health problems.
Dont worry if youre confused by all of your medication options. Your doctor can tell you which drugs might work best for you. Together, you can put together a treatment plan to get your blood pressure under control.
Some questions to ask your doctor include:
- Do I need medication to control my blood pressure?
- Am I at high risk of certain side effects from blood pressure medication?
- Am I taking any other drugs that might interact with my blood pressure medication?
- Would a combination blood pressure medication be a good option for me?
- Do you recommend improved diet and exercise as a way to lower my blood pressure?
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Are You Stuck In Fight Or Flight
In a normal, healthy person, the switch is going back and forth pretty regularly. But in a person with sympathetic dominance, the switch is stuck in the sympathetic mode. Their bodies rarely switch out of that sympathetic mode into the parasympathetic so they can rest and heal.
People who are prone to sympathetic dominance are the ones who push themselves too hard, are prone to worrying, or live in a constantly stressful situation of some type. Symptoms that come from chronic stress and being stuck in fight or flight mode include high blood pressure , high heart rate , insomnia, anxiety, and digestive issues. Because we live in such a fast-paced society where everything is hectic and rushed, many of us are constantly stressed and stuck in sympathetic dominance. While we cant always change the amount of stress we have in our lives, we can change our relationship to it.
Restore the Balance
There are simple things you can do to flip the switch from fight or flight to rest and digest. The first is exercise that gets your heart rate up. This fulfills the fight or flight in the same physiological way that running from that bear would do, and your body believes it can rest now so you go into parasympathetic mode to heal and rest. This is why people sleep better after moderate exercise.
What To Do When Diet And Exercise Dont Help
Since my early twenties my blood pressure has been high at the doctors office. I have whats called white coat hypertension which is a fancy term for I get nervous around doctors. But I took it seriously because of how I lost my father and grandfather. Sudden Cardiac Death these 3 words will put the fear in you, and its in my genes.
Since then, Ive done my best to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. Back in my twenties, the owners of the health club I joined got me into running and it wasnt long before I was back at my high school weight, running 5 miles a day. Based on what I read in running magazines, I ate mostly vegetarian a lot of salads and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains and very little meat. And even though I felt like I was doing everything right, my blood pressure was still high at the doctors office.
It turns out that lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure arent a one-size-fits-all prescription. Ive had to think outside the box when it comes to solving this puzzle in my own life, and Id like to share the biggest piece of the puzzle Ive found that doesnt fit into our current conventional way of thinking the role of chronic stress and subsequent sympathetic dominance in causing high blood pressure.
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Eat Some Dark Chocolate
Yes, chocolate lovers: Dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure.
But the dark chocolate should be 60 to 70 percent cacao. A review of studies on dark chocolate has found that eating one to two squares of dark chocolate per day may help lower the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and inflammation.
The benefits are thought to come from the flavonoids present in chocolate with more cocoa solids. The flavonoids help dilate, or widen, your blood vessels .
How Often Should You Get Your Blood Pressure Checked
If your blood pressure is higher than it should be, follow your doctors advice with regard to how often you should check your blood pressure at home. Also find out from your doctor what you should do if your blood pressure readings are higher than usual.
If you dont have high blood pressure, its still important to get it checked regularly, as blood pressure can change over time. Medical experts suggest the following timeline for low risk individuals:
- For people between 18 and 40. Get your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years.
- For anyone over 40. Get your blood pressure checked at least once a year.
You may need to have your blood pressure checked more regularly if you:
- have a family history of hypertension
- have heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease
- are overweight or have obesity
- have sleep apnea or insomnia
You dont necessarily have to get your blood pressure checked at your doctors office. Some health care clinics do free blood pressure screenings. You may also schedule an appointment at your local pharmacy.
Untreated and uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels and other organs, including your heart, kidneys, eyes, and brain.
Complications of hypertension can include:
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How To Treat Hypertension
Most people who have high blood pressure will need lifelong treatment to help ward off or delay serious health problems brought on by the condition.
Treatment for adults is usually aimed at getting to and keeping blood pressure below 130/80 millimeters of mercury .
Options to treat high blood pressure may include eating a healthy diet with less salt and taking medication, as well as incorporating additional lifestyle changes.
What Tests Diagnose High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff . This may be done using a stethoscope and a cuff and gauge or by an automatic machine. It is a routine part of the physical examination and one of the vital signs often recorded for a patient visit. Other vital signs include pulse rate, respiratory rate , temperature, and weight.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend specific steps to measure blood pressure in a medical setting.
- The patient should relax in a chair for at least five minutes, with the back supported and feet on the floor
- The patient should not have had caffeine, tobacco products or participated in any exercise for at least 30 minutes before the blood pressure check
- The patient should not talk for the five minute rest period
- The blood pressure cuff should not be placed over clothing instead it should be placed directly on the skin
- The arm being tested should be supported or be rested on a table or arm rest
- The cuff being used should be the appropriate size for the patient
- Blood pressure should be checked at least two times, separated by 1-2 minutes, and an average taken to estimate that personâs blood pressure
- For the first visit for a blood pressure check, the blood pressure reading should be measured in both arms and the higher of the two readings should be used to decide upon treatment
Other studies may be considered depending upon the individual patient’s needs
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How Is Blood Pressure Measured
Blood pressure is measured using a machine called a blood pressure monitor.
A cuff is put over your arm. This cuff is attached to a machine which measures the pressure inside your arteries. When the machine is switched on the cuff tightens and then slowly loosens again. It is quick and painless. At the end, the machine will give a blood pressure reading.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury .
A blood pressure reading contains two numbers and will be written as a figure like 120/75
The first number is the pressure when your heart beats . The second number is when your heart relaxes .
During a blood pressure test, a blood pressure cuff is wrapped around your arm so a blood pressure monitor can measure your systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Lifestyle Changes To Lower And Manage Hypertension
Additional lifestyle changes can also help you lower and manage blood pressure. These include:
Keeping a Healthy Weight Maintaining a healthy weight can help you control high blood pressure and keep other complications at bay.
Moreover, reducing your weight by just 3 to 5 percent can help lower your risk of health problems related to high blood pressure.
While a body mass index which measures your weight in relation to your height and gives an estimate of your total body fat of less than 25 is the goal for controlling blood pressure, your doctor can help you determine your specific weight goals.
Exercise Regular exercise can keep your weight under control, as well as help lower your blood pressure.
The AHA recommends an average of 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic activity three or four times a week to lower blood pressure.
Limiting Alcohol Consumption Alcohol can raise your blood pressure, even if you don’t have hypertension, so everyone should monitor alcoholic intake.
Healthy women of all ages and men older than 65 should stick to drinking up to one drink a day, while men 65 and younger should stay within up to two drinks a day.
Smoking also causes a temporary increase in blood pressure.
Learning how to manage stress, relax, and cope with problems can improve your emotional and physical health.
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