There’s a good reason for hypertension to known by the name, ‘Silent Killer’. It often has no symptoms till the time it leads to other devastating and debilitating complications which drives the patient to a health facility. Stroke and Heart attack are the two most serious risks associated with uncontrolled high blood pressure.
According to American Heart Association blood pressure is divided into following categories
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mmHg
- Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80 mmHg
- Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89 mmHg
- Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mmHg
- Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are already on medications, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of end organ damage.
Here are 10 extremely useful tips to lower blood pressure levels:
1. Exercise, first and the most important
Physical inactivity due our changing and modern lifestyle routine is one of the leading and most important cause of high blood pressure. Fortunately it’s a reversible or modifiable cause.
Here is your exercise guide:
The golden rule is to “Start Low and Go Slow”. AHA and American college of sports medicine recommends that people should exercise most days of the week or atleast 5 days a week. Recommendation is for aerobic exercises. Examples of aerobic exercises includes simple brisk morning walks (a simple yet effective and no investment exercise option), dancing, cycling, swimming, treadmill etc.
- If you are new to an exercise program, start with a short amount of time, and slowly increase. You could start out with 15 to 20 minutes, or in some cases even less.
- Gradually increase over a period of time, so that exercise lasts over at-least 30 mins.
- The ultimate aim is to achieve a total of 200 minutes of exercise a week. In simple terms it should be 40 mins of moderate exercise for 5 days a week. Remember not to forget 5 minutes of warm-up and cool down, this should be in addition to 30 minutes of moderate exercise.
Now, I know you must be wandering what is moderate exercise or how you know you are exercising adequately or not. A moderately intense exercise should make you feel breathless but still you can have a conversation without being to breathless.
2. Switch to healthy sugar options
Several studies have confirmed the health benefits associated with reduced consumption of refined sugars and carbohydrates.
An average reduction of 4.5mmHg systolic and 3.2 mmHg diastolic has been observed with an average reduction of 4kgs.
3. Lose those extra pounds
If you are overweight then, now is the time to seriously consider losing some extra pounds which you are carrying around.
Focus on healthy weight loss rather than targeting quick weight loss. Aggressive weight loss can cause more harm to your body than any good.
4. Stop Smoking
Nicotine and caffeine content present in cigarette smoke causes an immediate but temporary increase in blood pressure and heart rate due to its sympathetic stimulant effect on your nervous system.
Smoking also causes vasoconstriction, which can also lead to heart attack in patients who already have an underlying critical coronary artery disease. Studies have shown a strong association between smoking and blood pressure.
People who are in close vicinity of a smoker also become passive smokers or secondhand smokers and shows a higher tendency of developing high blood pressure or hypertensionas compared to others.
5. Let go of your stress and anxiety
If taking too much of stress can solve the issue which you are facing, then ask your friend and family to take stress along with you. But, trust me that’s not gonna solve any of your problems. Infact, stress and anxiety lowers your efficiency and potential to solve a problem.
There are lots of different ways to successfully relieve stress, so find what works for you. Yoga/meditation, practice deep breathing, take a walk, read a book, or watch a comedy.
Listening to music daily has also been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure.
6. Include Chocolate in your diet
It’s a good news for all the chocolate lovers. Studies have shown the health benefits of eating chocolate especially the dark chocolate. Cocoa is rich in plant chemicals called flavonoids that may help to protect the heart. Eating one to two squares of dark chocolate per day may help lower the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and inflammation.
Choosing dark chocolate and eating modest quantities may offer the greatest health benefits as its rich in Iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus and flavonoids.
Dark chocolates with more than 70% of cocoa offers highest benefits. However, keep in mind that the higher the cocoa content, the bitter will be the taste.
7. Improve your sleep routine
The national sleep and heart study conducted clearly concluded that, those individuals who sleep for less than 7 hours or more than 9 hrs regularly have a tendency to develop high blood pressure.
Sleep deprivation, more importantly in middle aged individuals is a significant risk factor for hypertension.
Indulging yourself in healthy activities like regular exercise, yoga or meditation will help you regularise your sleep pattern.
8. Limit alcohol intake
Alcohol has the potential to raise your blood pressure, even in healthy individuals.
It is very important to consume alcohol in moderation. A standard alcohol drink contains 14 gms of alcohol. Every 10 grams of alcohol can raise your blood pressure by 1 mmHg.
Here are the standards for different types of alcohol: 10 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
9. Take protein rich diet
A long term study has clearly shown the benefit of rich protein diet in keeping blood pressure under control. Consuming 100 grams of protein daily has shown to lower the risk of hypertension or high blood pressure by 40 percent.
For those who add fibre to their diet regularly enjoys even higher reduced risk, almost by 60 percent.
However, high protein diet is not suitable for all individuals. If you have any kidney issues you may need to discuss with your doctor first.
These are some examples of high quality protein rich foods:
- Fish like salmon or tuna
- Cheese like cheddar
- Beans and legumes
- Peanut butter
10. Stick to your doctors prescription
In many patients of hypertension it’s not possible to keep blood pressure under control just by lifestyle modifications and they need regular antihypertensive medications along with healthy lifestyle routine.
Follow the advice of your doctor and don’t try to experiment with the timing and dose by yourself.
This will help improve the long term outcome and also reduces the risk of complications.
Thanks For Reading!!!
“And please do us a little favor and share this guide with others, for there’s a good chance that it will help them in one or the other way.”
Some Must Reads: