According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 103 million American adults have high blood pressure – almost a third of all adults in this country. While high blood pressure is a common condition, that doesn’t mean it isn’t something to be concerned about.
In today’s article Dr. Jason Galicia, Medical Director of Keystone Internal Medicine, sheds light on the subject of high blood pressure and gives tips for lowering blood pressure numbers naturally.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when the blood pressure (the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels), is consistently higher than it should be.
What Are The Symptoms?
High blood pressure is often called “the silent killer” because people don’t usually have any symptoms and patients are unaware of the damage it is already causing to their hearts, arteries and other organs. It is important not to assume any specific symptoms will let you know there’s a problem and it is equally important to know your blood pressure numbers. This is one of the reasons regular checkups with your healthcare provider, even if you are feeling fine, are important.
What Problems Can High Blood Pressure Cause?
High blood pressure causes harm by increasing the workload of the heart and the arteries, making them work harder and less efficiently. The force and friction of high blood pressure damages the inside walls of the arteries over time which may lead to tiny tears.
After that, the LDL (bad) cholesterol forms plaque along those tiny tears in the artery walls, leading to atherosclerosis (a disease of the arteries that obstructs blood flow). This leads to narrowing of the arteries which can ultimately lead to other conditions ranging from arrhythmia (the heart beating too fast, too slow, or erratically) to heart attack and stroke.
Is It Possible To Lower High Blood Pressure Without Taking Medications?
Yes, through lifestyle changes it is possible to lower blood pressure naturally.
What Are Some Ways To Lower It Naturally?
Professional societies recommend maintaining a healthy weight and striving for a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. It is also recommended to reduce sodium intake to 1500 mg a day (or less than a teaspoon of salt a day) along with increasing fruits and vegetables in the diet and incorporating low fat dairy products. Controlling sodium also means checking labels because up to 75% of the sodium we consume is hidden in processed foods like tomato sauce, condiments, soups, canned foods and prepared mixes. It is also recommended to aim for 90 to 150 minutes per week of aerobic and/or dynamic resistance exercise (such as lifting weights) or three sessions of isometric resistance exercises (like planks or wall sits) per week. Also try to limit alcohol to no more than one drink for women and two drinks for men per day.
Is It Possible To Go Off Of Blood Pressure Medications If You Make Lifestyle Changes?
It is sometimes possible to go off medications if lifestyle changes are done but this is not the general rule because high blood pressure can be a lifelong disease. It is important to discuss this with your health care provider and to heed their advice, even if it means taking medications every day for the rest of your life.
This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.