Controlling your blood pressure is a very important aspect of your health. How important? Well, uncontrolled blood pressure (also known as Hypertension), is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer”, this is because high blood pressure often does not have any symptoms but can become life-threatening if uncontrolled. For women, blood pressure control is particularly important, as cardiovascular diseases and strokes cause 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one death every 80 seconds! So, what can you do to help lower your blood pressure naturally? First off, make sure you are being seen by your physician annually to monitor your blood pressure as well as general health. If you already have elevated blood pressure, make sure you are keeping a weekly log of your at- home blood pressure readings. Make sure you are taking your blood pressure upon waking at the same time every day; this will allow each reading to be comparable and easy to track. The next point I always like to remind patients is that you can make lifestyle modifications that can really have a huge impact on your blood pressure. So what modifications are worth the hype?
- Lose that Belly Fat – Your blood pressure can increase with excess weight. It can also increase with sleep apnea (think snoring) which is seen most often in patients that are obese. Sleep apnea can impair breathing which is why it can lead to elevated blood pressure. Losing weight is the number one lifestyle modification you can make to reduce your blood pressure.
- Get Exercising – exercising at least 30 mins a day, five days a week can lower your blood pressure by 4-9 points (mmHg). Not only is exercise great for those with hypertension but it can also be great for those who are at an increased risk of developing hypertension (prehypertension), reducing their risk of developing full blown hypertension with exercise alone. The best types of exercise for reducing your blood pressure include walking, jogging, biking or swimming.
- Eat all the Colors of the Rainbow– eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables of all colors can provide great cardiovascular benefits including containing properties that are anti-inflammatory as well as cardioprotective. Eating a well balance diet can reduce your blood pressure by 14 points(mmHg)!
- Step Away from the Salt reducing your sodium intake even by a little can reduce your blood pressure by 2-8mmHg.
- Happy Hour in Moderation?- One drink (five ounces of wine) can actually be beneficial as studies have shown red wine in moderation can be cardioprotective, however, this is why I mention moderation, increasing your intake to any more than 5 ounces of wine per day, can actually cause an increase in blood pressure. What a bummer, right?
- Quit Smoking!– smoking can interfere with your body’s oxygenation capacity which can lead to more work loaded to the heart, and just like you guessed it, this will increase your blood pressure.
- Time to Meditate- Chronic stress has been linked to many health issues including high blood pressure. Taking some time each day to reduce your stress, whether that means taking a walk outdoors at lunch, listening to a meditation podcast during your commute or practicing mindfulness throughout your day, reducing your stress can have extremely positive benefits on your blood pressure.
- Ask about Integrative Care Options for Managing your Blood Pressure. Uncontrolled blood pressure can be very dangerous and is why when lifestyle modifications are not enough, medications may become necessary in your care however, it is important to know what your options are as well as consult with an integrative physician as certain supplements as well as botanical products may be indicated in your care. Make sure you are first properly evaluated and do not take any herbal products without consulting with your physician first as certain botanical products may interact with your medications.