High blood pressure is often known as the ‘silent killer’. And for good reason.
It creates a major risk for strokes and heart disease (one of the leading causes of death in the US), but often has no symptoms.
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, this is a time to take your health very seriously.
It is possible to reduce your blood pressure solely through lifestyle changes. There will be instances where even when making these changes, you will also require medication.
Either way – the first step for you to take is making healthy changes to your daily routine.
Dangers of High Blood Pressure
High Blood pressure (hypertension) can be damaging your body quietly in the background before you notice any particular symptoms. This is why it is so important to;
- Check your blood pressure regularly
- Create a lifestyle that keeps you healthy and fit (which in turn will help keep your blood pressure down)
High blood pressure can cause a variety of complications, and can even result in death if not properly taken care of.
When your arteries are healthy, they are flexible and elastic, and strong. Blood flows freely through them to supply your vital organs and tissues with the nutrients and oxygen they need.
High blood pressure increases the pressure of the blood that is flowing through your arteries. It can then damage the cells of the inner lining of your arteries.
The fats from your diet can collect in these damaged arteries.This leads to your arteries becoming less elastic, and limits the blood flow through your body.
An aneurysm can also form, when the weakened artery wall enlarges and forms a bulge.
Damage Your Heart
High blood pressure that is uncontrolled can lead to coronary heart disease, an enlarged left heart, and heart failure.
The narrowed arteries don’t allow the blood to flow freely. The heart also has to work harder to pump the blood through your body, which is what can lead to an enlarged left heart. This can ultimately lead to a heart attack, heart failure, and sudden cardiac death.
Heart failure can occur when your heart muscles start to wear out, and ultimately fail. It is from prolonged strain due to the high blood pressure.
Damage Your Brain
Your brain – like your heart – requires regular healthy blood flow in order function optimally.
High blood pressure can lead to Transient ischemic attacks (TIA, or ‘mini strokes’), as well as full-blown strokes.
A TIA is when the blood supply to the brain is briefly interrupted. A stroke, however, is when part of your brain is deprived of nutrients and oxygen. The interruption can come from narrow, ruptured or weak blood vessels, or from blood clots forming in arteries.
Dementia and mild cognitive impairment is also caused from high blood pressure. Vascular dementia occurs from the narrowing and blocking of arteries. Dementia and mild cognitive impairment can also occur after a stroke, when the blood flow to the brain was interrupted.
Other dangers of high blood pressure
- Damage to your kidneys – including failure, scarring, a kidney artery aneurysm.
- Damage to your eyes- including eye blood vessel damage, buildup of fluid under the retina, and nerve damage.
- Sexual dysfunction – for men and women
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Loss of bone density
Natural Ways To Lower Blood Pressure
Relieve Your Stress and Relax
Having some stress in your day-to-day life is bound to happen, it is just part of life.
But prolonged stress that doesn’t go away or get less, can cause an increase in your blood pressure, and cause it to stay higher for longer than it is healthy for.
Reducing the stress in your life will go a long way to helping reduce your blood pressure.
Where you can, eliminate the areas of your life that is causing you a great deal of stress.
This may not always be possible – if you’re going through a difficult time in your family, for example. So in those cases, you can change how you deal with the stress.
Incorporating mindfulness meditation and some basic yoga into your daily routine will help calm your body and mind.
It will also help you deal with any stressful situations that may come up in the future, as your body will be better able to manage stress, rather than going on ‘high alert’.
Spending some time in the sun for a few minutes boosts endorphins and will also reduce your blood pressure.
And don’t forget to rely on your support network of family and friends when feeling overwhelmed.
In certain cases, physical activity can be as beneficial to your heart as medication.
Regular exercise slows down your heart rate and reduces your blood pressure (just like a beta blocker would). I would much rather add some exercise to my daily routine than have to take medication for the rest of my life!
Now this doesn’t mean that you have to have an intense weight session at the gym, or go on 5 mile runs.
Even daily brisk walks, or yoga, can have a positive impact on lowering your blood pressure.
What is more important than intensity, is being consistent.
Aim for 30 minutes each time, for 5 days a week. If you struggle to get moving, consider joining a gym or exercise group, so you can exercise with other people and motivate each other.
Incorporating some form of exercise into your daily life (ideally something that gets your heart rate up), can drop your blood pressure by between 4 to 9 points!
Lose Some Weight
If you a overweight at all, losing some of that excess fat can help lower your blood pressure.
While there are many other health reasons to lose weight, losing as little 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure.
Add Probiotics To Your Meals
Studies have shown that regularly eating food with probiotics is linked to healthier blood pressure.
Probiotics are consumable live bacteria. Foods that have these beneficial bacteria include fermented foods, yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese. You can also take probiotic supplements.
Balance Out Your Nutrients
Reduce your sodium and increase your potassium.
Americans often eat up to three times the recommended amount of sodium (which is 1,500 mg a day).
The recommended amount of sodium is found in just ¾ of a teaspoon of salt.
Reducing your sodium to under 1,500 mg a day will require getting used to reading labels. Salt finds its way into all sorts of foods.
Where possible, try to prepare your food from scratch. This will help you avoid not only excess salt, but also unnecessary preservatives and additives.
Keep an eye out specifically for the amount of sodium in breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, and soup.
Adding more potassium to your diet helps reduce blood pressure by moving sodium out of your body. You can find potassium in foods like milk, raisins, tuna, and bananas.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Drinking too much, and too often, can result in higher blood pressure. Practice moderation when it comes to alcohol, and stick to no more than one drink per day.
Every time you smoke a cigarette, your blood pressure goes up.
Quitting smoking will not only reduce your blood pressure, but will help prolong your life in general.