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Tips To Reduce Blood Pressure

Last reviewed: 15 Jul 2022

Medically Reviewed By: Dr Jay Shah

Resource Hub / Lowering blood pressure Tips To Reduce Blood Pressure

Tips To Reduce Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure, you’re not alone. In England, the condition is experienced by 31% of men and 26% of women. If unmanaged, high blood pressure – also known as hypertension – can place extra strain on your heart and arteries, leading to a range of health problems.

But there’s good news, too: high blood pressure is one of the most common health conditions and one of the most preventable and treatable. In fact, according to Public Health England, every 10 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure reduces the risk of major cardiovascular events by 20%.

Whether you’re reading up after a new diagnosis or you’ve decided now is the time to start taking better care of your health, we’re glad you’ve found us. In this article we look at the main things you can do to reduce your blood pressure safely at home, plus give links to lots more tips for lowering blood pressure in our resource hub. Let’s go.

 

1. Exercise regularly

The NHS recommends that adults should do at least 2.5 hours of exercise a week. A study even found that 30 minutes of exercise in the morning may be as effective as medication at lowering blood pressure for that day.

A moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling or swimming, is ideal. But if you hate the gym and you’ve never considered yourself a sporty person, don’t panic. Try these tips:

  • Find a physical activity you enjoy, like gardening, walking the dog or even a dance class – anything that makes you breathe harder and your heart beat a little faster.
  • Pair up with a friend or family member who’d also looking to get fitter – that way, you have someone else to keep you company and hold you accountable.
  • Find ways to build more activity into your daily routine, such as getting off the bus a couple of stops early, always using the stairs or taking a lunchtime walk.

Want more tips? Check out our guide to exercising safely with high blood pressure, the best forms of exercise for high blood pressure and the exercises you should probably avoid.

 

2. Eat healthily

A healthy, balanced diet that’s low in sodium and high in potassium can lower blood pressure by helping to reduce the amount of fluid in the body, meaning the blood vessels can expand and contract more easily, which helps to lower blood pressure.

  • Take a look at the NHS’s Eatwell Guide, designed for people with hypertension who want to make healthy changes to their diet.
  • Aim to eat more unprocessed foods, including fruit and vegetables; dark leafy greens like spinach and kale; fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring; and nuts.
  • Eat plenty of fibre – things like wholegrain rice, brown bread, and whole wheat pasta are best.
  • If you have a sweet tooth, swap your usual treats for dark chocolate – chocolate with a 70% or higher cocoa content has been shown to help lower blood pressure.

If you’re looking for some further reading, you’ll find plenty of articles in our Resource Hub, including an overview of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, some

easy recipes to help lower blood pressure, and a closer look at the best food types to lower blood pressure.

 

3. Cut down on salt

You probably already know that a diet that’s high in salt is bad news for your blood pressure. That’s because salt makes your body hold onto water. Eat too much of it, and the extra water in your blood increases the pressure on your blood vessels, raising your blood pressure.

Cutting down on salt is one of the easiest and quickest ways to lower your blood pressure. Try to:

  • Use less salt in your cooking, and don’t put the salt shaker on the table.
  • Check the labels on foods when you go shopping – even for foods you wouldn’t expect to contain a lot of salt. The traffic-light system used on some food packaging can help with this.
  • If you eat out, call the restaurant in advance and ask if your chosen dish can be made with less salt.
  • If food tastes bland to start with, persevere – your taste buds will soon get used to the taste.
  • Rethink your go-to recipes and try adding flavour with onions, garlic, herbs, spices, chilli or lemon juice instead of salt.

 

4. Drink less alcohol

If you drink, it’s important to do so in moderation. According to a 2006 study, alcohol can raise your blood pressure by 1mmHg for each 10g of alcohol consumed. One unit is the equivalent of 8g of alcohol.

Drinking too much alcohol too often has a number of detrimental effects on your health, including raising blood pressure above normal levels. Alcohol can make blood pressure medication less effective and is also linked to weight gain, another cause of high blood pressure. Our tips are:

  • Stick within the recommended limits – no more than 3-4 units a day for men and then 2-3 for women.
  • Try alcohol-free or low-alcohol drinks – the range is much better than it used to be.
  • Choose smaller glasses instead of large ones, and bottles instead of pints.
  • Add mixers or water to make your drink last longer, or alternate between alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • If you drink at home, buy a measure so you know exactly how much you’re drinking.

Read more about alcohol and lowering blood pressure and learn the truth about drinking red wine to lower blood pressure.

 

5. Reduce stress

Easier said than done, we know. But stress has several effects on the body, one of them being that

it contributes to surges in hormones, which can then increase blood pressure.

Different people find different ways to reduce stress – some prefer a relaxing activity like yoga or reading, and others find physical activity more effective. You could:

  • Get some exercise and boost your mental and physical health simultaneously. It doesn’t have to be intense – a walk in the fresh air could be all that’s needed (read how being active helps mental wellbeing).
  • Talk to or spend time with friends and family.
  • Do something that makes you laugh, like watching a comedy.
  • Practise meditation or mindfulness – Headspace and Calm are two apps you could try to get started.
  • Try to switch to a glass-half-full mindset, says Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster. ‘Try writing down three things that went well, or for which you’re grateful, at the end of every day.’
  • If stress is making it harder to function day to day, speak to a doctor or mental health professional.

 

6. Take your medication

If your doctor has prescribed blood pressure medication, ensure 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.

 

Final thoughts

There are many things you can do to reduce high blood pressure. But the only way to know whether lifestyle changes are having a positive effect on your blood pressure is to monitor it. Using a home blood pressure monitor regularly will help you understand what’s helping and what to avoid.

Aktiia Team Written by The Aktiia Team

Our mission is to help people live free from hypertension.

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