4 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure
Sangeetha Balakrishnan, MD
46% of adults in the United States struggle with high blood pressure. High blood pressure
can lead to increased risks for stroke, heart attack, and other coronary
complications. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force of blood against
the arterial walls, and it is measured in two parts:
- Systolic, or “active” – the force or pressure that heart
pumps blood throughout the body
- Diastolic, or “resting” – the force or pressure of blood
flow as the heart rests between beats
Healthy adults should have a blood pressure goal of less than 120 systolic
over 70 diastolic. Having a higher blood pressure increases the amount
of stress on the body and the heart in particular, and, over time, can
contribute to fatty buildup in the arteries, heart attack, or even heart failure.
With heart disease being the leading cause of death for adults, it is more
important than ever to address your personal risk factors and learn how
to lower them. Here are a few ways to lower your blood pressure and improve
your overall heart health.
- Know Your Risk Factors
There are a variety of factors that contribute to each individual’s
unique level of risk. While some, like family history, are uncontrollable,
there are plenty of lifestyle choices that everyone can make to lower
their blood pressure and reduce their risks for other coronary diseases.
People have an increased risk for high blood pressure if they:
- Smoke or use tobacco products
- Consume excessive amounts of alcohol (more than 1-2 drinks per day)
- Are overweight
- Also have another health disease or condition like diabetes or obesity
- Have a family history of heart disease
Even if you are not showing symptoms of high blood pressure, it is important
to acknowledge potential risk factors, and to discuss potential complications
with your primary care physician.
- Eat a Heart Healthy Diet
Your diet plays a major role in maintaining a healthy blood pressure. A
heart healthy diet is one that consists of low amounts of sodium, high
fiber content, a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats
like fish or chicken. While cholesterol often gets a bad reputation, there
are foods that contain healthy cholesterol, like nuts, avocados, and foods
made with olive oil. These “healthy fats” are also important
for anyone looking to stick to a heart-healthy diet.
- Make Exercise a Priority
The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 120
minutes of aerobic exercise every week in order to stay healthy. Regular
exercise can not only help to lower your blood pressure, it can also boost
the body’s immune system, increase metabolism—and it can greatly
benefit your mental health as well. Focus on incorporating a variety of
cardio, strength training, and low-intensity exercises—such as swimming
or walking—into your weekly routine.
- Get Regular Screenings
While adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle is a crucial component of lowering
your blood pressure and maintaining your long-term heart health, there
are certain risk factors that are simply beyond our control. This is why
regular heart-health screenings are so important.
Adults over the age of 20 should have a general physical exam as well as
a blood pressure screening once a year. Additionally, blood sugar, triglyceride,
and cholesterol levels should be monitored by your primary care physician
at least once every three to five years. Adults over the age of 50 may
need to monitor these cardiovascular numbers more often, especially if
they also have an additional condition like hypertension or diabetes.
Your doctor will be able to help you assess your personal risk factors
and can help you combat any complications to avoid future problems.
Visit whhs.com to
find a physician or to learn more about our
heart and vascular wellness program.
Posted February, 2020