Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is important for everyone but especially those who’ve been diagnosed with hypertension. You may be taking medication but are unsure of what supplementary actions you can take to lower your blood pressure.
In this guide, we’ll look at 8 changes you can make to reduce your blood pressure and improve your heart health.
Regular exercise is a great way to reduce blood pressure for hypertension sufferers. Engaging in 2.5 hours of physical activity every week has been shown to reduce blood pressure by 5–8 mm Hg. But ensure to stick to a routine or those numbers could creep up again over time
It’s also important to speak to your doctor before starting any form of exercise, to confirm that it is medically safe to proceed with the planned exercise.
For more information on effective activities, read our guide on exercise and whether it lowers blood pressure.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the perfect partner to regular exercise. Some quick tips to help eat better and lower your blood pressure include:
Of course, speak to your doctor or a dietician before changing your diet.
If your doctor has prescribed blood pressure medication, make sure you take the correct dose at the right time. Medications can help control hypertension by relaxing blood vessels, allowing blood to pass through more easily and relieving stress on your heart and organs.
Medication should always be taken alongside other measures to lower blood pressure, but you should speak to a medical professional to decide what the correct balance is for you.
Approximately 90% of the global population consume caffeine in at least one meal or drink every day. You may be drinking a cup of tea or coffee as you read this. But caffeine can raise your blood pressure significantly in short bursts, whether you suffer from hypertension or not.
While the effects can vary depending on individual factors such as age, health, and size, hypertensive people are more prone to sudden blood pressure changes. That’s why reducing caffeine intake is important. Try decaf options for drinks or consider replacing them altogether with healthier alternatives.
Drinking alcohol excessively can raise blood pressure in the short term, and long-term heavy alcohol intake can lead to harmful long-term effects, which cause the muscles in your blood vessels to become narrower, making it harder for blood to pump around your body.
Talk to a doctor about your options. Whether you’re reducing or eliminating alcohol, you have several options to help you along the way.
Smoking can cause a number of health problems, including hypertension. The nicotine in cigarettes raises blood pressure and heart rates in a similar way to alcohol, by narrowing your blood vessels. It can also harden artery walls and increase the risk of blood clot.
Talk to a doctor about your options to quit smoking. These include nicotine patches, nicotine gum, nasal sprays, medications, and forms of exercise and diet changes among others.
Stress is another significant factor in increased hypertension. While a large body of evidence is not yet available to demonstrate a link between stress and long-term high blood pressure, it can still contribute to surges in hormones in stressful situations, and those hormones can increase your blood pressure.
Ways to combat stress include:
Keeping tabs on your blood pressure is important whether you have hypertension or not, as high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, which the WHO named the leading cause of death (globally).
We have a guide on how to use a blood pressure monitor which you might find useful, as well as a Blood Pressure Monitor Buying Guide. With a better understanding of how to measure your blood pressure and having the right tools and techniques at your disposal, you can vastly improve your heart health.