Blood pressure is one of the most essential indicators of overall health which is why we monitor it routinely in the primary care setting. It is measured with 2 numbers
- Top number (systolic)
- Bottom number (diastolic)
While both are equally important, systolic blood pressure, which is the force of blood pushing through the arteries, is most likely to rise. Diastolic blood pressure measures this same pressure while the heart is at rest.
An average, healthy blood pressure reading is 120/80.
A diagnosis of high blood pressure or hypertension may come as a shock because oftentimes the symptoms go unnoticed which is why it is referred to as "the silent killer". However, a small number of people do experience symptoms which may include:
- Visual changes
- Shortness of breath
- Blood in urine
- Chest pain
- Nose bleeds
Usually, the diagnosis is followed by a diagnostic workup and initiation of medications. At Elam Health and Wellness Dr. Stephanie Opusunju is a skilled internist who believes that
“When it comes to hypertension, blood pressure medications have their role but the goal is short term use. The best way to manage high blood pressure over time is with consistent lifestyle changes that promote health, wellness, and longevity.”
Here are 5 ways to naturally lower blood pressure that you can incorporate in your daily life under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
1. Change your diet
A low sodium diet is kryptonite for high blood pressure. When you eat too much salt, it increases the amount of fluid that enters your bloodstream and arteries from the surrounding tissue, which in turn raises the pressure in your arteries. A well studied diet you can follow is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. This diet is low in sodium and rich in vegetables, fruits, protein, whole grains, fat free or low fat dairy products. While you do not have to eliminate salt completely, making better choices and reading nutrition labels will make a huge difference.
2. Move your body
It can be difficult to go from zero exercise to exercising daily but studies have shown that just 20 minutes of brisk walking daily can lower systolic blood pressure by up to 10-15 mmHg. Aerobic exercise increases the heart rate gradually and consistently which helps to stretch the heart and arteries, and increase blood flow to vital organs. If you cannot do 20 minutes each day, aim for 10. Just get up and move!
3. Decrease cigarettes and alcohol intake
Alcohol causes weight gain and dehydration. Smoking leads to constriction of the arteries acutely and ultimately high blood pressure. They both heighten the risk of developing vascular complications including heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown that limiting intake of both greatly reduces these risks.
4. Improve your sleep
Seven to eight hours of sleep each night is the general recommendation for adults. People who sleep six hours or less may have steeper increases in blood pressure. Sleep helps the body control hormones needed to control stress and metabolism. One possible and treatable cause of sleep deprivation contributing to high blood pressure is obstructive sleep apnea.
5. Kiss stress goodbye
We face stress on all fronts these days. Job losses, health scares, family problems, financial constraints, and so much more. During stressful periods our bodies produce a surge of hormones that temporarily increase blood pressure which causes elevated heart rate and blood vessel narrowing. As you can imagine, these repeated spikes in blood pressure can be bad news. While we cannot completely eliminate stress, we can change the ways we think about and respond to it. Mindfulness, prayer, hobbies, strengthening social networks, and self care are some examples of stress lowering activities.
High blood pressure affects millions worldwide. It’s associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. At Elam Health and Wellness Dr. Stephanie Opusunju is a trained internist who understands your health is deeply personal. She can help create a treatment plan that will include much more than medications to help decrease your blood pressure naturally.
Please call us to schedule an appointment or use the online booking tool on this website.