Small Changes Can Make A Big Difference In Your Blood Pressure Numbers
If you suddenly find yourself with high blood pressure under the new guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, you might be wondering what to do. The guidelines lowered the definition for high blood pressure to 130/80 from 140/90 millimeters of mercury , meaning more people now meet the criteria for stage 1 hypertension.
While you shouldn’t shrug off the change, there’s also no need to panic. “Obviously, nothing happened overnight inside a woman’s body or to her health with the release of the guidelines,” says Dr. Naomi Fisher, director of hypertension service and hypertension innovation at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension, and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The change, however, should spur you to take your blood pressure seriously. “These guidelines have been long anticipated and are very welcome by most hypertension experts. They may seem drastic, but in putting the knowledge we’ve gained from large trials into clinical practice, they will help thousands of people,” says Dr. Fisher.
Eat More Potassium And Less Sodium
Increasing your potassium intake and cutting back on salt can also lower your blood pressure .
Potassium is a double winner: It lessens the effects of salt in your system and eases tension in your blood vessels. However, diets rich in potassium may be harmful to people with kidney disease, so talk with your doctor before increasing your potassium intake.
Its easy to eat more potassium. So many foods are naturally high in potassium. Here are a few:
- other processed snacks
Foods labeled low fat are usually high in salt and sugar to compensate for the loss of fat. Fat is what gives food taste and makes you feel full.
Cutting down on or even better, cutting out processed food will help you eat less salt, less sugar, and fewer refined carbohydrates. All of this can result in lower blood pressure.
Make it a practice to check nutrition labels. According to the Food and Drug Administration , a sodium listing of 5 percent or less on a food label is considered low, while 20 percent or more is considered high (
Lentils And Other Pulses
Lentils provide protein and fiber, and say they can benefit the blood vessels of people with hypertension.
The authors of an analyzed the effects of a pulse-rich diet on rats. The rats consumed a diet that was 30% pulses, including beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas. Consuming pulses appeared to decrease levels of blood pressure and cholesterol.
A of human trials, with a total of 554 participants, found that consuming pulses may lower blood pressure in people with and without hypertension. However, the authors note that more studies are necessary.
People can use lentils in many ways, including:
- as an alternative to minced beef
- adding bulk to salads
- as a base for stews and soups
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What Does It Mean When You Have Heart Palpitations From Your Blood Pressure Medication
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How To Lower Blood Pressure In Minutes
Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.
High blood pressure can hit at any time, and the results can be devastating. When an acute jump occurs, knowing how to lower blood pressure in minutes can be the difference between life and death.
This is especially true if youre one of the 75 million American adults suffering from hypertension , or one of the other 75 million with prehypertension. When a boost hits, its good to know how to make blood pressure go down quickly.
Your blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day, and this is completely normal. Stress, anxiety, exercise, and activity can all lead to increases, while relaxation, getting ready for bed, and sleep can all bring it back down.
But not all high blood pressure is safe, and the longer it stays at a high rate, the more health risks you assume. Risks include acute responses like sweating, fainting or shortness of breath, and more severe issues like heart disease and heart attack can arise. So when stress hits, knowing how to lower blood pressure quickly can be a great health benefit.
Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
Your doctor may recommend you take measurements yourself while at home. This may help them understand how your blood pressure changes throughout the day or how its responding to treatment.
Some pharmacies offer blood pressure checks too.
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Ask An Expert: Lowering Blood Pressure Without Pills
“I was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure. I’d like to lower it without medications, if I can. What are the best non-drug ways to reduce blood pressure? Is it possible to do this without popping pills?”
Answer from Craig Walsh, M.D., M.P.H., cardiologist with Providence St. Vincent Heart Clinic and the Providence Heart and Vascular Institute, and Miles Hassell, M.D., director of Providence Integrative Medicine:
Making healthful changes in your eating and exercise habits is an excellent first step to dealing with your high blood pressure. Your efforts will show results in just a few weeks. Even if your levels don’t go down as far as needed, your drug therapy may involve fewer drugs and at lower doses.
If you haven’t already done this, it’s also a good idea to talk with your doctor about all of the prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take. Some, including common pain relievers and decongestants, can elevate blood pressure.
Research studies have shown that the following strategies can lead to modest but lasting decreases in blood pressure. The payoff is big: Healthy blood pressure reduces your risk of stroke, heart failure and kidney disease.
For strength training, use light weights and do multiple repetitions. Your muscles should tire after 10 to 15 reps.
Physical activity yields a two-fer benefit for your blood pressure: Exercise is great for arterial health, and it builds muscle and burns stored fat to keep you at an ideal weight.
Symptoms Prior To A Massive Blood Pressure Change
Since the blood is responsible for oxygenating most of the bodys organs, when the pressure increases, the body suffers in other ways. Among other things, we can mention blurred vision, headache and dizziness. Other symptoms include poor appetite, vomiting and nausea. These symptoms usually have other origins. However, in people suffering from hypertension it is almost always due to an increase in blood pressure.
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Decrease Your Salt Intake
Salt is the enemy of high blood pressure, says Dr. Desai. When you eat too much salt, it increases the amount of fluid that enters the bloodstream and arteries from the surrounding tissue, which raises the pressure in the arteries.
While you may not have to remove salt from your diet completely, avoid foods very high in salt like chips, French fries, salted nuts, soups, store-bought salad dressings, processed foods and cheese.
Finding The Right Blood Pressure Medications For You
How blood pressure medicines work
Your body is constantly working to keep your blood pressure under control. There are receptors in your blood vessel walls which detect when your blood pressure is too high or low. In response, your nerves, hormones and kidneys all play a role in bringing it back to a safe level.
Over time, your blood pressure can creep up for a number of reasons, including an unhealthy lifestyle, and medications can help to bring it back down. They do this by acting on the ways your body controls blood pressure. Some affect the nerves or hormones which send signals to your blood vessel walls, telling them to relax or contract, while some affect the kidneys, causing them to remove excess salt and water from the blood.
Taking more than one medicine
Taking a combination of different medicines can work better than taking one, because they work in different ways. Taking a low dose of two medications rather than a high dose of one, can also help to avoid side effects, as side effects can sometimes be caused by the dose.
Sometimes a medication will work well to begin with, but with time your blood pressure might creep up again. You may then need to take another medicine alongside it which works in a different way.
Choosing a medicine to suit you
Which medications will be suitable for you depends on a number of things, including your:
Finding the right combination of medicines
Simplifying your medicines
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How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
High blood pressure is usually managed with a combination of medication and lifestyle treatments, says Nicole Weinberg, M.D., a cardiologist at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., although she typically recommends that patients try lifestyle modifications first.
Theres no substitute for a healthy lifestyleeating well and exercising are going to be much better at reducing blood pressure than me throwing a ton of medications at someone, she says.
While there are medications that can help do things like relax your blood vessels, make your heart beat with less force, and block nerve activity that can restrict your blood vessels, Dr. Weinberg says that theres really no substitute for healthy lifestyle factors when it comes to lowering blood pressure in many instances.
Although medication can lower blood pressure, it may cause side effects such as leg cramps, dizziness, and insomnia. The good news is that most people can bring their numbers down naturally, without using drugs. Lifestyle changes are an important part of prevention and treatment of high blood pressure, says Brandie D. Williams, M.D., a cardiologist at Texas Health Stephenville and Texas Health Physicians Group.
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Eat More Fruits And Vegetables
If reducing salt is not enough, people with high blood pressure have an entire diet designed for them. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, was developed by the National Institutes of Health and has been voted one of the best overall diets.
The DASH diet is high in fruits, vegetables and fiber, and low in sodium. It may further reduce systolic blood pressure by about 3 points compared with a regular low-sodium diet, according to a trial of DASH.
However, a drawback of the DASH diet is that its high in carbohydrates. This can stimulate the appetite and make it harder for people to lose weight, Bisognano said. If you are trying to lose weight and lower blood pressure, diets such as Zone and South Beach, which balance carbs with protein and fat, may be easier to stick with for six months or so, he added.
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