Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally
Learn the basics about reducing your blood pressure without medication.
All medications come with a risk of side effects, so why take them if you dont have to? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about seven out of 10 U.S. adults with high blood pressure use medications to treat their condition. But what many people dont realize is that you can help control your blood pressure naturally by changing a few daily habits.
While making these changes may not mean you can immediately go off your blood pressure medications or never have to take them, they will improve your overall health and reduce your risk for developing other diseases, including diabetes and possibly even cancer. Making healthy lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack or kidney damage, and reduce the likelihood that your dose of blood pressure medication will need to be increased in the future.
In addition to eating right, exercising, not smoking, getting enough sleep and managing your weight are all good ways to lower your risk of heart disease. Try these tips for lowering your blood pressure naturally.
How Can I Prevent High Blood Pressure
You can help prevent high blood pressure by having a healthy lifestyle. This means:
If you already have high blood pressure, it is important to prevent it from getting worse or causing complications. You should get regular medical care and follow your prescribed treatment plan. Your plan will include healthy lifestyle habit recommendations and possibly medicines.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
How Much Exercise Do You Need To Do
Its recommended that you get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. But that 150 minutes can be broken up into more manageable chunks throughout the week.
You can start your exercise in 10-minute increments if youre just getting started back into an exercise routine, recommends Gray.
And consistency is key. It may take one to three months before you notice any difference in your blood pressure.
You also want to make sure youre working out hard enough. For moderate-intensity exercise, you want to aim for about 50% of your max heart rate. Another simple way to figure out if you need to push yourself a little more is the talk test.
If youre on a treadmill or walking, youd only be able to get out a few words, says Gray. You definitely wouldnt be able to sing or easily have a full conversation.
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Risks And Complications Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can create severe problems within your body. It can cause strokes, dementia, or a heart attack. High blood pressure can only be diagnosed by your doctor.
If youve been to see the doctor and they determine you have high blood pressure, they might decide to give you medications designed to lower it.
Medications may have different side effects. Consult your healthcare provider about possible complications of any medications you might take for your high blood pressure.
Doctors might also prescribe dietary changes after talking to you about your lifestyle and blood pressure. They will likely recommend that you exercise for 30 minutes a day, or get at least that much physical activity if you cant exercise.
With diet, medicine, and exercise, you can reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure and the other health problems that it can cause. Dietary changes and healthier lifestyles tend to reduce blood pressure and often lead to a longer, more enjoyable life.
How To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
The term lifestyle changes implies you will need to change your habits to bring your blood pressure down. Broadly speaking, these modifications are natural non-pharmaceutical ways of lowering blood pressure. Six methods have been proven effective in clinical studies, and two others are recommended:
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How To Monitor Your Blood Pressure
You can monitor your own blood pressure at home using a home blood pressure monitor. The American Heart Association recommends using an automatic, cuff-style bicep monitor. Make sure you buy a monitor that has been validated and with a cuff that fits properly around your upper arm. Then follow these simple steps:
- Dont exercise, eat, drink caffeinated beverages, or smoke within 30 minutes of measuring your blood pressure.
- Sit still with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Follow your monitors instructions or ask your doctor how to use it correctly.
- Make sure you check your blood pressure at the same time each day.
- Check your blood pressure two or three times each time you sit down to measure it. Wait one minute in between each reading. Be sure to track your measurements, either writing them down in a journal or using an online tracker.
You may be wondering how to lower blood pressure. Below are my top natural ways to lower blood pressure, and by the way, it should happen fast! Some plans can take months to see results. With my tips, some of which revolve around anti-inflammatory foods, you can see results in just one day.
What Causes High Blood Pressure
Risk factors for developing high blood pressure include:
- Family history
- Up to age 64, men are more likely to develop high blood pressure than women
- At age 65 and older, women are more likely to develop high blood pressure than men
Risk factors for developing high blood pressure that can be prevented or managed include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
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Herbs That May Help Lower High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, affects nearly half of all American adults .
Its the most common preventable risk factor for heart disease .
This article looks at the scientific research behind 10 herbs and spices that may help lower blood pressure.
- systolic blood pressure over 130 mm Hg
- diastolic blood pressure over 80 mm Hg
- both systolic and diastolic values above these levels
You can manage blood pressure with medications, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and calcium channel blockers.
Many dietary and lifestyle changes can also reduce your blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease.
In fact, studies have shown that some herbs and spices may reduce blood pressure levels, so you may want to consider adding these to your diet, too.
Make sure to speak with your healthcare provider before using any of the following herbs.
Below are 10 herbs that may help lower blood pressure.
You can manage high blood pressure with medication, as well as dietary and lifestyle changes. Some herbs and spices may likewise help lower blood pressure.
Basil is a flavorful herb that comes in various forms. Its popular in alternative medicine because its rich in various powerful compounds.
Sweet basil is high in eugenol. Research has linked this plant-based antioxidant to many health benefits, including lowered blood pressure .
How Is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed
Blood pressure is measured with a pressure cuff . The cuff is placed around the upper arm and then manually or electronically inflated. When it is inflated the cuff compresses the brachial artery, the major blood vessel of the upper arm, briefly stopping blood flow. The air in the cuff is then released slowly while the person performing the measurement listens with a stethoscope or monitors an electronic readout.
Blood pressure is expressed in two numbers:
- Systolic blood pressure : measures the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart beats
- Diastolic blood pressure : measures the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart is at rest between beats
These measurements can tell if your blood pressure is normal, high, or low.
- High blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or more
- Elevated blood pressure levels between 120/80 and 139/89 are considered prehypertension and mean a person is at higher risk for developing high blood pressure
- Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg
Adults 20 years of age and older should have their blood pressure checked during regular doctor visits.
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Why Is It Dangerous To Lower My Blood Pressure Too Quickly
Before we talk about specific examples, lets learn why its dangerous to lower your blood pressure too quickly. Your heart and blood vessels carry blood to all your body parts, including large, important organs that keep you alive, like your lungs and especially your brain. Large drops in blood pressure can suddenly stop your brain from getting the continuous blood flow and oxygen it needs. This can lead to a stroke and permanent brain damage.
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.
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How Does Diet Play A Role In Managing High Blood Pressure
An unhealthy diet that’s high in sodium, saturated fat, and sugar may increase your risk of high blood pressure. These nutrients contribute to hypertension in a variety of ways. For example, saturated fat increases cholesterol levels, including “bad” LDL cholesterol, that can block your arteries and slow blood flow.
While it’s important to minimize these nutrients in your diet to decrease your risk of or manage your high blood pressure, it’s also important to eat more foods that lower blood pressure.
Foods that lower blood pressure contain specific nutrients that are scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure. These nutrients include:
- vitamin C
While the words “blood pressure-lowering diet” may conjure images of unseasoned egg whites and limp steamed veggies, getting your blood pressure into a healthy range is more than just doableit can be downright delicious.
Here is a list of the 20 healthiest foods that lower blood pressure. And for a more structured eating plan, consider trying the DASH Diet or “The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” Diet. This expert-approved, heart-healthy diet is one of the top-recommended diets to lower blood pressure.
Ten Minutes Of Brisk Or Moderate Walking Three Times A Day
Exercise lowers blood pressure by reducing blood vessel stiffness so blood can flow more easily. The effects of exercise are most noticeable during and immediately after a workout. Lowered blood pressure can be most significant right after you work out.
So, health professionals theorize, the ideal way to combat high blood pressure might be to break up your workout into several sessions throughout the day. In fact, one study found that three 10-minute walks a day more effectively prevented future blood pressure spikes than one 30-minute trek per day.
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First Why Is Your Blood Pressure High
Its natural to experience short-term spikes in blood pressure, like during exercise or after a cup of coffee. But over time, if your heart consistently pumps out more blood than usual or your blood vessels become stiffer, your blood pressure can stay high, which may lead to hypertension. Many things can cause this to happen, including eating too much salt, being overweight, or even taking certain medications that can cause high blood pressure as a side effect.
You might know that a blood pressure reading has two numbers . The American Heart Association describes normal blood pressure as a first number of 120 or less and a second number of 80 or less.
Best Exercises To Lower Blood Pressure
As you perform cardio and strength training, it helps strengthen your heart, which means your heart can pump more blood with less effort.
Here are some forms of exercise that are great for helping lower your blood pressure:
When you reduce your weight, you can actually reduce your blood pressure by 5 to 7 millimeters of mercury, which is how blood pressure is measured, explains Gray.
After working out, you can also focus on a few breathing methods that help lower your blood pressure. Gray recommends the pursed-lip breathing method.
You just breathe in through your nose for 2 seconds and then out through your mouth, kind of like youre blowing a whistle, for 4 seconds, says Gray. Doing that can help reset the body.
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Managing Blood Pressure Is A Lifelong Commitment
If you have high blood pressure, its vital that you listen to your doctor. Remember: Youre a part of your healthcare team. You and your doctor are partners.
Educate yourself about HBP and learn how to monitor your blood pressure at home. Armed with this information, you can commit to living heart healthy.
- Reduce high blood pressure.
- Prevent or delay the development of high blood pressure.
- Enhance the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
- Lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney damage, vision loss and sexual dysfunction.
How To Stay Motivated
Starting an exercise routine can be scary. But Gray has some tips to help you stay motivated and on the right track toward your health goals.
Dont forget about being consistent with your workouts aiming for those 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week by making your exercise plan a regular part of your life, says Gray.
In order to keep up a lifestyle and see those true lifestyle changes, you want to make sure you have that planned exercise rather than just physical activity, she says.
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Try Meditation Or Yoga
Mindfulness and meditation, including transcendental meditation, have long been used and studied as methods to reduce stress.
Yoga, which commonly involves breathing control, posture, and meditation techniques, can also be effective in reducing stress and blood pressure.
A 2013 review on yoga and blood pressure found an average blood pressure decrease of 3.62 mm Hg diastolic and 4.17 mm Hg systolic when compared with those who didnt exercise.
Studies of yoga practices that included breath control, postures, and meditation were nearly twice as effective as yoga practices that didnt include all three of these elements .
Cut Back On Sugar And Refined Carbohydrates
Many studies show that restricting sugar and refined carbohydrates can help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.
Sugar, especially fructose, may increase your blood pressure more than salt, according to one 2014 review. In trials lasting at least 8 weeks, sugar increased blood pressure by 5.6 mm Hg diastolic and 6.9 mm Hg systolic .
A 2020 study that compared various popular diets found that for people who with more weight or obesity, low carb and low fat diets lowered their diastolic blood pressure by an average of about 5 mm Hg and their systolic blood pressure 3 mm Hg after 6 months .
Another benefit of a low carb, low sugar diet is that you feel fuller longer, because youre consuming more protein and fat.
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Other Foods That May Help Lower Your Blood Pressure
Garlic may also help lower your blood pressure. Garlic has been shown to help reduce inflammation. Using garlic to add flavor to your food also helps you reduce salt, which can also help lower blood pressure.
Moderate amounts of alcohol have also been shown to help lower blood pressure. Women shouldnt exceed one drink per day, while men shouldnt have more than two drinks per day. Keep in mind, consuming greater quantities of alcohol can cause blood pressure to rise.
Some people should drink less than this amount, or not at all, though. Drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol can interfere with certain medications and can increase your risk of other chronic conditions, including certain cancers and osteoporosis. Ask your health care provider if drinking alcohol is safe for you.
Try Meditation Or Deep Breathing
While these two behaviors could also fall under stress reduction techniques, meditation and deep breathing deserve specific mention.
Both meditation and deep breathing may activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is engaged when the body relaxes, slowing the heart rate, and lowering blood pressure.
Theres quite a bit of research in this area, with studies showing that different styles of meditation appear to have benefits for lowering blood pressure .
Deep breathing techniques can also be quite effective.
In one study, participants were asked to either take six deep breaths over the course of 30 seconds or simply sit still for 30 seconds. Those who took breaths lowered their blood pressure more than those who just sat .
Try guided meditation or deep breathing. Heres a video to get you started.
Bottom line: Both meditation and deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure.
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You Can Fight High Blood Pressure
While heart disease is still the No. 1 killer in the United States and around the world, death rates have decreased significantly. Earlier and better treatment of high blood pressure has played a key role in that decrease.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.