17 Effective Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Levels/High blood pressure, or hypertension, is called the “silent killer” for good reason. It often has no symptoms but is a major risk for heart disease and stroke. And these diseases are among the leading causes of death in the United States ( rx). About one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure (rxe).
Your blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, which is abbreviated as mm Hg. There are two numbers involved in the measurement:
- Systolic blood pressure. The top number represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heartbeats.
- Diastolic blood pressure. The bottom number represents the pressure in your blood vessels between beats when your heart is resting.
Your blood pressure depends on how much blood your heart is pumping, and how much resistance there is to blood flow in your arteries. The narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
The good news about elevated blood pressure is that lifestyle changes can significantly reduce your numbers and lower your risk — without requiring medications.
Blood pressure lower than 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal. Blood pressure that’s 130/80 mm Hg or more is considered high. If your numbers are above normal but under 130/80 mm Hg, you fall into the category of elevated blood pressure. This means that you’re at risk for developing high blood pressure (rx).
Here are 17 effective ways to lower your blood pressure levels
1. Increase activity and exercise more
- In a 2017 study, sedentary older adults who participated in aerobic exercise training lowered their blood pressure by an average of 3.9 percent systolic and 4.5 percent diastolic (rx). These results are as good as some blood pressure medications.
- As you regularly increase your heart and breathing rates, over time your heart gets stronger and pumps with less effort. This puts less pressure on your arteries and lowers your blood pressure.
- If finding 40 minutes at a time is a challenge, there may still be benefits when the time is divided into three or four 10- to 15-minute segments throughout the day (rx).
How much activity should you strive for? A 2013 report by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) advises moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity for 40-minute sessions, three to four times per week (rx).
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) makes similar recommendations (rx).
But you don’t have to run marathons. Increasing your activity level can be as simple as:
- using the stairs
- walking instead of driving
- doing household chores
- going for a bike ride
- playing a team sport
- Just do it regularly and work up to at least half an hour per day of moderate activity.
- One example of moderate activity that can have big results is tai chi. A 2017 review on the effects of tai chi and high blood pressure shows an overall average of a 15.6 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure and a 10.7 mm Hg drop in diastolic blood pressure, compared to people who didn’t exercise at all (rx).
- Ongoing studies continue to suggest that there are still benefits to even light physical activity, especially in older adults (rx).
A 2014 review on exercise and lowering blood pressure found that there are many combinations of exercise that can lower blood pressure. Aerobic exercise, resistance training, high-intensity interval training, short bouts of exercise throughout the day, or walking 10,000 steps a day may all lower blood pressure (rx).
2. Lose weight if you’re overweight
- If you’re overweight, losing even 5 to 10 pounds can reduce your blood pressure. Plus, you’ll lower your risk for other medical problems.
A 2016 review of several studies reported that weight-loss diets reduced blood pressure by an average of 3.2 mm Hg diastolic and 4.5 mm Hg systolic (rx).
3. Cut back on sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Many scientific studies show that restricting sugar and refined carbohydrates can help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.
- A 2010 study compared a low-carb diet to a low-fat diet. The low-fat diet included a diet drug. Both diets produced weight loss, but the low-carb diet was much more effective in lowering blood pressure.
- The low-carb diet lowered blood pressure by 4.5 mm Hg diastolic and 5.9 mm Hg systolic. The diet of low-fat plus the diet drug lowered blood pressure by only 0.4 mm Hg diastolic and 1.5 mm Hg systolic (rx).
A 2012 analysis of low-carb diets and heart disease risk found that these diets lowered blood pressure by an average of 3.10 mm Hg diastolic and 4.81 mm Hg systolic (rx). Another side effect of a low-carb, low-sugar diet is that you feel fuller longer because you’re consuming more protein and fat.
4. Eat more potassium and less sodium
- Increasing your potassium intake and cutting back on salt can also lower your blood pressure (rx).
- Potassium is a double winner: It lessens the effects of salt in your system and also eases tension in your blood vessels. However, diets rich in potassium may be harmful to individuals with kidney disease, so talk to your doctor before increasing your potassium intake.
- It’s easy to eat more potassium — so many foods are naturally high in potassium.
Here are a few
- low-fat dairy foods, such as milk and yogurt
- fruits, such as bananas, apricots, avocados, and oranges
- vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, tomatoes, greens, and spinach
Note that individuals respond to salt differently. Some people are salt-sensitive, meaning that a higher salt intake increases their blood pressure. Others are salt-insensitive. They can have a high salt intake and excrete it in their urine without raising their blood pressure (rx).
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends reducing salt intake using the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet (rx). The DASH diet emphasizes
- low-sodium foods
- fruits and vegetables
- low-fat dairy
- whole grains
- fewer sweets and red meats
5. Eat less processed food
- Most of the extra salt in your diet comes from processed foods and foods from restaurants, not your salt shaker at home (rx). Popular high-salt items include deli meats, canned soup, pizza, chips, and 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 labels. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a sodium listing of 5 percent or less on a food label is considered low, while 20 percent or more is considered high (rx).
6. Stop smoking
- Stopping smoking is good for your all-around health. Smoking causes an immediate but temporary increase in your blood pressure and an increase in your heart rate (rx).
- In the long term, the chemicals in tobacco can increase your blood pressure by damaging your blood vessel walls, causing inflammation, and narrowing your arteries. The hardened arteries cause higher blood pressure.
- The chemicals in tobacco can affect your blood vessels even if you’re around secondhand smoke.
A study showed that children around secondhand smoke in the home had higher blood pressure than those from nonsmoking homes (rx).
7. Reduce excess stress
- We live in stressful times. Workplace and family demands, national and international politics — they all contribute to stress. Finding ways to reduce your own stress is important for your health and your blood pressure.
- There are lots of different ways to successfully relieve stress, so find what works for you. 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 (rx).
8. Try meditation or yoga
- Mindfulness and meditation, including transcendental meditation, have long been used — and studied — as methods to reduce stress. A 2012 study notes that one university program in Massachusetts has had more than 19,000 people participate in a meditation and mindfulness program to reduce stress (rx).
- 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 to those who didn’t exercise. Studies of yoga practices that included breath control, postures, and meditation were nearly twice as effective as yoga practices that didn’t include all three of these elements (rx).
9. 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 (rx).
A 2010 study of 14,310 people found that individuals without hypertension who ate more dark chocolate had lower blood pressure overall than those who ate less dark chocolate (rx).
10. Try these medicinal herbs
- Herbal medicines have long been used in many cultures to treat a variety of ailments.
- Some herbs have even been shown to possibly lower blood pressure. Although, more research is needed to identify the doses and components in the herbs that are most useful (rx).
- Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal supplements. They may interfere with your prescription medications.
Here’s a partial list of plants and herbs that are used by cultures throughout the world to lower blood pressure:
- black bean (Castanospermum australe)
- cat’s claw (Uncaria rhynchophylla)
- celery juice (Apium graveolens)
- Chinese hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida)
- ginger root
- giant dodder (Cuscuta reflexa)
- Indian plantago (blond psyllium)
- maritime pine bark (Pinus pinaster)
- river lily (Crinum glaucum)
- roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
- sesame oil (Sesamum indicum)
- tomato extract (Lycopersicon esculentum)
- tea (Camellia sinensis), especially green tea and oolong tea
- umbrella tree bark (Musanga cecropioides)
11. Make sure to get good, restful sleep
- Your blood pressure typically dips down when you’re sleeping. If you don’t sleep well, it can affect your blood pressure. People who experience sleep deprivation, especially those who are middle-aged, have an increased risk of high blood pressure (rx).
- For some people, getting a good night’s sleep isn’t easy. There are many ways to help you get restful sleep. Try setting a regular sleep schedule, spend time relaxing at night, exercise during the day, avoid daytime naps, and make your bedroom comfortable (rx).
The national Sleep Heart Health Study found that regularly sleeping less than 7 hours a night and more than 9 hours a night was associated with an increased prevalence of hypertension. Regularly sleeping less than 5 hours a night was linked to a significant risk of hypertension long-term (rx).
12. Eat garlic or take garlic extract supplements
- Fresh garlic or garlic extract are both widely used to lower blood pressure (rx).
- According to one clinical study, a time-release garlic extract preparation may have a greater effect on blood pressure than regular garlic powder tablets (rx).
One 2012 review noted a study of 87 people with high blood pressure that found a diastolic reduction of 6 mm Hg and a systolic reduction of 12 mm Hg in those who consumed garlic, compared to people without any treatment (rx).
13. 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 (rx). 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, so talk to your doctor.
- It’s fairly easy to consume 100 grams of protein daily on most types of diets.
High-protein foods include
- fish, such as salmon or canned tuna in water
- poultry, such as chicken breast
- beans and legumes, such as kidney beans and lentils
- nuts or nut butter such as peanut butter
- cheese, such as cheddar
- A 3.5-ounce (oz.) serving of salmon can have as much as 22 grams (g) of protein, while a 3.5-oz. serving of chicken breast might contain 30 g of protein.
- With regards to vegetarian options, a half-cup serving of most types of beans contains 7 to 10 g of protein. Two tablespoons of peanut butter would provide 8 g (rx).
14. Take these BP-lowering supplements
These supplements are readily available and have demonstrated promise for lowering blood pressure
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid
- Adding omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids or fish oil to your diet can have many benefits.
- 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 (rx).
- This protein complex derived from milk may have several health benefits, in addition to possibly lowering blood pressure (rx).
- Magnesium deficiency is related to higher blood pressure. A meta-analysis found a small reduction in blood pressure with magnesium supplementation (rx).
- In a few small studies, the antioxidant CoQ10 lowered systolic blood pressure by 17 mm Hg and diastolic up to 10 mm Hg (rx).
- Oral L-citrulline is a precursor to L-arginine in the body, a building block of protein, which may lower blood pressure (rx).
15. Drink less alcohol
- Alcohol can raise your blood pressure, even if you’re healthy.
- It’s important to drink in moderation. Alcohol can raise your blood pressure by 1 mm Hg for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed (rx). A standard drink contains 14 grams of alcohol.
- What constitutes a standard drink? One 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (rx).
- Moderate drinking is up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks per day for men (rx).
16. Consider cutting back on caffeine
- Caffeine raises your blood pressure, but the effect is temporary. It lasts 45 to 60 minutes and the reaction varies from individual to individual (rx).
- Some people may be more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you’re caffeine-sensitive, you may want to cut back on your coffee consumption or try decaffeinated coffee.
- One older study indicated that caffeine’s 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 (rx).
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.
17. Take prescription medication
- If your blood pressure is very high or doesn’t 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 (rx). However, it can take some time to find the right combination of medications.
7 Home Remedies for Managing High Blood Pressure
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force at which blood pumps from the heart into the arteries. A normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mm Hg. When blood pressure is high, the blood moves through the arteries more forcefully. This puts increased pressure on the delicate tissues in the arteries and damages the blood vessels. High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects about half of American adults, estimates the American College of Cardiology.
Known as a “silent killer,” it usually doesn’t cause symptoms until there’s significant damage done to the heart. Without visible symptoms, most people are unaware that they have high blood pressure.
1. Get moving
- Exercising 30 to 60 minutes a day is an important part of healthy living.
- Along with helping lower blood pressure, regular physical activity benefits your mood, strength, and balance. It decreases your risk of diabetes and other types of heart disease.
- If you’ve been inactive for a while, talk to your doctor about a safe exercise routine. Start out slowly, then gradually pick up the pace and frequency of your workouts.
- Not a fan of the gym? Take your workout outside. Go for a hike, jog, or swim and still reap the benefits. The important thing is to get moving!
The American Heart Association (AHA) also recommends incorporating muscle-strengthening activity at least two days per week. You can try lifting weights, doing pushups, or performing any other exercise that helps build lean muscle mass.
2. Follow the DASH diet
Following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can lower your blood pressure by as much as 11 mm Hg systolic. The DASH diet consists of:
- eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- eating low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, and nuts
- eliminating foods that are high in saturated fats, such as processed foods, full-fat dairy products, and fatty meats
- It also helps to cut back on desserts and sweetened beverages, such as soda and juice.
3. Put down the saltshaker
- Keeping your sodium intake to a minimum can be vital for lowering blood pressure.
- In some people, when you eat too much sodium, your body starts to retain fluid. This results in a sharp rise in blood pressure.
- To decrease sodium in your diet, don’t add salt to your food. One teaspoon of table salt has 2,300 mg of sodium!
- Use herbs and spices to add flavor instead. Processed foods also tend to be loaded with sodium. Always read food labels and choose low-sodium alternatives when possible.
The AHA recommends limiting your sodium intake to between 1,500 milligrams (mg) and 2,300 mg per day. That’s a little over half a teaspoon of table salt.
4. Lose excess weight
- Weight and blood pressure go hand in hand. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help lower your blood pressure.
- It’s not just the number on your scale that matters. Watching your waistline is also critical for controlling blood pressure.
- The extra fat around your waist, called visceral fat, is troublesome. It tends to surround various organs in the abdomen. This can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure.
- In general, men should keep their waist measurement to less than 40 inches. Women should aim for less than 35 inches.
5. Nix your nicotine addiction
- Each cigarette you smoke temporarily raises blood pressure for several minutes after you finish. If you’re a heavy smoker, your blood pressure can stay elevated for extended periods of time.
- People with high blood pressure who smoke are at greater risk for developing dangerously high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
- Even secondhand smoke can put you at increased risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Aside from providing numerous other health benefits, quitting smoking can help your blood pressure return to normal.
6. Limit alcohol
- Drinking a glass of red wine with your dinner is perfectly fine. It might even offer heart-health benefits when done in moderation.
- But drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to lots of health issues, including high blood pressure.
- Excessive drinking can also reduce the effectiveness of certain blood pressure medications.
- What does drinking in moderation mean? The AHA recommends that men limit their consumption to two alcoholic drinks per day. Women should limit their intake to one alcoholic drink per day.
One drink equals
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor
- In today’s fast-paced world that’s filled with increasing demands, it can be hard to slow down and relax. It’s important to step away from your daily responsibilities so you can ease your stress.
- Stress can temporarily raise your blood pressure. Too much of it can keep your pressure up for extended periods of time.
- It helps to identify the trigger for your stress. It may be your job, relationship, or finances. Once you know the source of your stress, you can try to find ways to fix the problem.
- You can also take steps to relieve your stress in a healthy way. Try taking a few deep breaths, meditating, or practicing yoga.
The risks of high blood pressure
- When left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to serious health complications, including stroke, heart attack, and kidney damage. Regular visits to your doctor can help you monitor and control your blood pressure.
- A blood pressure reading of 130/80 mm Hg or above is considered high. If you’ve recently received a diagnosis of high blood pressure, your doctor will work with you on how to lower it.
- Your treatment plan might include medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of therapies. Taking the above steps can help bring your numbers down, too.
Experts say each lifestyle change, on average, is expected to bring down blood pressure by 4 to 5 mm Hg systolic (the top number) and 2 to 3 mm Hg diastolic (the bottom number). Lowering salt intake and maing dietary changes may lower blood pressure even more.
10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication
- By making these 10 lifestyle changes, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you might be worried about taking medication to bring your numbers down.
- Lifestyle plays an important role in treating your high blood pressure. If you successfully control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you might avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication.
Here are 10 lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure and keep it down.
1. Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline
- Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Being overweight also can cause disrupted breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), which further raises your blood pressure.
- Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure. Losing even a small amount of weight if you’re overweight or obese can help reduce your blood pressure. In general, you may reduce your blood pressure by about 1 millimeter of mercury (mm Hg) with each kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of weight you lose.
- Besides shedding pounds, you generally should also keep an eye on your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure.
- Men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters).
- Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (89 centimeters).
These numbers vary among ethnic groups. Ask your doctor about a healthy waist measurement for you.
2. Exercise regularly
- Regular physical activity — such as 150 minutes a week, or about 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure. It’s important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again.
- If you have elevated blood pressure, exercise can help you avoid developing hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.
Some examples of aerobic exercise you may try to lower blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. You can also try high-intensity interval training, which involves alternating short bursts of intense activity with subsequent recovery periods of lighter activity. Strength training also can help reduce blood pressure. Aim to include strength training exercises at least two days a week. Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program.
3. Eat a healthy diet
- Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure. This eating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
It isn’t easy to change your eating habits, but with these tips, you can adopt a healthy diet
- Keep a food diary – Writing down what you eat, even for just a week, can shed surprising light on your true eating habits. Monitor what you eat, how much, when and why.
- Consider boosting potassium – Potassium can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The best source of potassium is food, such as fruits and vegetables, rather than supplements. Talk to your doctor about the potassium level that’s best for you.
- Be a smart shopper – Read food labels when you shop and stick to your healthy-eating plan when you’re dining out, too.
4. Reduce sodium in your diet
- Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can improve your heart health and reduce blood pressure by about 5 to 6 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.
- The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure varies among groups of people. In general, limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less. However, a lower sodium intake — 1,500 mg a day or less — is ideal for most adults.
To decrease sodium in your diet, consider these tips:
- Read food labels. If possible, choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy.
- Eat fewer processed foods. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing.
- Don’t add salt. Just 1 level teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your food.
- Ease into it. If you don’t feel you can drastically reduce the sodium in your diet suddenly, cut back gradually. Your palate will adjust over time.
5. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
- Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. By drinking alcohol only in moderation — generally one drink a day for women, or two a day for men — you can potentially lower your blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
- But that protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol.
- Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points. It can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
6. Quit smoking
- Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure for many minutes after you finish. Stopping smoking helps your blood pressure return to normal. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health. People who quit smoking may live longer than people who never quit smoking.
7. Cut back on caffeine
- The role caffeine plays in blood pressure is still debated. Caffeine can raise blood pressure up to 10 mm Hg in people who rarely consume it. But people who drink coffee regularly may experience little or no effect on their blood pressure.
- Although the long-term effects of caffeine on blood pressure aren’t clear, it’s possible blood pressure may slightly increase.
- To see if caffeine raises your blood pressure, check your pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a caffeinated beverage. If your blood pressure increases by 5 to 10 mm Hg, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure-raising effects of caffeine. Talk to your doctor about the effects of caffeine on your blood pressure.
8. Reduce your stress
Chronic stress may contribute to high blood pressure. More research is needed to determine the effects of chronic stress on blood pressure. Occasional stress also can contribute to high blood pressure if you react to stress by eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol or smoking.
Take some time to think about what causes you to feel stressed, such as work, family, finances or illness. Once you know what’s causing your stress, consider how you can eliminate or reduce stress.
If you can’t eliminate all of your stressors, you can at least cope with them in a healthier way. Try to:
- Change your expectations. For example, plan your day and focus on your priorities. Avoid trying to do too much and learn to say no. Understand there are some things you can’t change or control, but you can focus on how you react to them.
- Focus on issues you can control and make plans to solve them. If you are having an issue at work, try talking to your manager. If you are having a conflict with your kids or spouse, take steps to resolve it.
- Avoid stress triggers. Try to avoid triggers when you can. For example, if rush-hour traffic on the way to work causes stress, try leaving earlier in the morning, or take public transportation. Avoid people who cause you stress if possible.
- Make time to relax and to do activities you enjoy. Take time each day to sit quietly and breathe deeply. Make time for enjoyable activities or hobbies in your schedule, such as taking a walk, cooking or volunteering.
- Practice gratitude. Expressing gratitude to others can help reduce your stress.
9. Monitor your blood pressure at home and see your doctor regularly
- Home monitoring can help you keep tabs on your blood pressure, make certain your lifestyle changes are working, and alert you and your doctor to potential health complications. Blood pressure monitors are available widely and without a prescription. Talk to your doctor about home monitoring before you get started.
- Regular visits with your doctor are also key to controlling your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is well-controlled, check with your doctor about how often you need to check it. Your doctor may suggest checking it daily or less often. If you’re making any changes in your medications or other treatments, your doctor may recommend you check your blood pressure starting two weeks after treatment changes and a week before your next appointment.
10. Get support
- Supportive family and friends can help improve your health. They may encourage you to take care of yourself, drive you to the doctor’s office or embark on an exercise program with you to keep your blood pressure low.
- If you find you need support beyond your family and friends, consider joining a support group. This may put you in touch with people who can give you an emotional or morale boost and who can offer practical tips to cope with your condition.
Lifestyle modification is a very important aspect of the treatment of diabetes and hypertension. It is generally agreed that lifestyle modification has a modest antihypertensive effect resulting in an effective blood pressure reduction of 5-10 mmHg. Changes to lifestyle which appear to have health benefits include:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Strive for a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.
- Eat healthier. Eat lots of fruit, veggies and low-fat dairy, and less saturated and total fat.
- Reduce sodium. Ideally, stay under 1,500 mg a day, but aim for at least a 1,000 mg per day reduction.
- Get active. Aim for at least 90 to 150 minutes of aerobic and/or dynamic resistance exercise per week and/or three sessions of isometric resistance exercises per week.
- Limit alcohol. Drink no more than 1-2 drinks a day. (One for most women, two for most men.)
Reducing salt intake to less than 1.5 g/day
Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables (8-10 servings per day)
Increasing consumption of low-fat dairy products (2-3 servings per day)
Increasing activity levels/ engaging in regular aerobic physical activity (e.g. brisk walking 30 min/day)
Losing excess weight
Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption (less than 2 drinks (30 ml ethanol)/day for men and less than 1 drink/day for women)
Lifestyle modification may be used as a sole treatment modality in patients with blood pressure <140/80, but ideally should be combined with pharmacotherapy in patients with systolic blood pressure (SBP) ≥ 140 and or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) ≥ 80