How to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally without Medication

how to reduce blood pressure

how to lower blood pressure naturallyAre you looking for ways on how to lower blood pressure naturally without medication?

We’ve got you covered.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the leading causes of heart disease in the world.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 70 million adults in the U.S. who suffer from hypertension.

This puts the figure at around 1 in every 3 adults. And of those individuals, only 52% have their blood pressure under control.

Taking prescription medication may be the easiest way to deal with this condition. But, knowing how to lower blood pressure naturally lets you do away with spending extra money for medicine. Also, you won’t have to deal with their side effects.

In this article, we take a look at different methods that will help you deal with hypertension without medication.

The Risks of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a very serious condition.

It leads to many serious illnesses like heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. Even worse, it doesn’t present any symptoms or give you any warning signs.

For this reason, medical experts often call it the “silent killer”. Due to this, it can damage your organs without you even knowing about it until much later or it’s too late.

According to the CDC, more than 350,000 deaths in the U.S. were related to directly or as a result of hypertension. This comes to nearly 1,000 deaths daily.

If you have high blood pressure your disk of kidney disease and kidney failure increase. So do your risk of heart attack and stroke.

 

Understanding Your Blood Pressure

In this section, we learn more about blood pressure. What it is and why it’s important. Then we explain what your blood pressure numbers mean.

What is Blood Pressure?

blood pressure monitorBlood pressure is the amount of force your blood has when it flows through your blood vessels.

Our hearts pump blood into all our body’s organs to keep them healthy. The blood vessels are passageways that allow the blood to reach our brain as well as our fingers and toes.

Blood pressure measurement is done by placing a blood pressure cuff around our upper arm. This is something that your doctor does without fail each time your visit their clinic.

After taking your reading, you’ve probably heard your doctor mention something like “120 over 80”.

The 2 numbers represent your blood pressure. The first number is your systolic blood pressure. The second number is your diastolic blood pressure.

  • Your systolic blood pressure represents the force of your blood on the blood vessel walls when your heart beats. This is the time it pushes blood out to the organs. It is the upper number you’ll see in your blood pressure monitor. Or, the first number your doctor mentions.
  • The diastolic blood pressure number meanwhile, is the pressure in between heartbeats. This is the pressure when the heart is relaxed. It is also the lower number on your electronic blood pressure monitor.

If you’re looking at a blood pressure monitor, the number you’ll see will look something like “120/80”.

High blood pressure occurs when the force exerted by your blood on the walls of your blood vessels gets too high. This is unhealthy because your heart works harder than normal to push blood through the passageways.

It can also mean that your blood vessels have become narrowed, which is why it takes more force to get enough blood through.

 

Blood Pressure Chart

Here’s a table that shows the different stages of hypertension. It will help you interpret what your blood pressure numbers mean.

Category Systolic in mm Hg (top #)   Diastolic in mm Hg (bottom #)
Normal below 120 and below 80
Prehypertension 120 – 139 or 80 – 89
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1 140 – 159 or 90 – 99
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2 160 or above or 100 or above
Hypertensive Crisis (Emergency Care Needed) Over 180 or Over 110

Here’s what the numbers mean in simplified terms.

  • Healthy blood pressure: below 120/80
  • Early high blood pressure: between 120/80 and 140/90
  • High blood pressure: 140/90 or higher

 

How to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally without Medication

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure or your doctor says you have pre-hypertension, then making some of the changes below can help. These include changes to your diet, lifestyle and physical activity level.

All of them will help lower your blood pressure without medication.

 

1. Lose Excess Weight and Trim Your Waistline

The western diet is high in fat, refined grains and filled with sugar.

This is why metabolic related diseases like obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes are on the rise.

Based on figures from the American Heart Association (AHA), around 35% of adult Americans are obese. This puts the number at over 78 million people.

Because kids are exposed to the same diet at a young age, more and more kids are becoming obese. There are numbers that back this up.

The AHA says around 32% of children in the U.S. between 2 to 19 are overweight or obese.

The problem with being overweight is it affects more than our appearance. It also makes our body less efficient in circulating blood. The excess amount of body fat is one cause of high blood pressure.

Losing extra weight, especially in the belly region, helps lower your BP numbers. It also makes you healthier.

A study done by the National Research Council in Italy found that individuals who had more body fat in their stomach are were more likely to have high blood pressure.

In kids, researchers found that your waist circumference and Body Mass Index (BMI) are good predictors of childhood obesity-related health risks. These include high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Taking Action:

a. Keep Your Weight in Check

Not sure if you’re underweight, overweight or just right? Check your BMI.

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a gauge of your weight compared to your height. By using a few equations, you can quickly check if you’re underweight, have normal weight, overweight or obese.

Try this online BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. It’s a quick way of finding out your BMI.

So what’s overweight?

The CDC defines being overweight as having a BMI of between 25 and 29.9. A BMI of 30 or above, meanwhile, is considered obese.

If your BMI is 25 and over, it may be time to try and lose some weight.

A study in Norway found that in close to 30,000 men and women, a change in BMI (up or down) also affected blood pressure. This notes the importance of keeping your BMI at the normal range.

b. Watch Your Waistline

Apart from keeping your weight in check, also keep an eye on your waistline.

study by Italian researchers shows that men who have waist circumferences of 102 cm (40”) or larger had a much larger risk of hypertension (3 times more) compared to those whose waistlines measured less than 94 cm (37”).

Women whose waist circumference were 88 cm (35”) or more were twice as likely to have high blood pressure compared to those whose waists measured less an 80 cm (31.5”).

Bottom line, men should try to keep their waistline under 37”. Women, should target less than 31.5”.

 

2. Engage in Physical Activity and Exercise Regularly

Besides not eating healthy, the other aspect that greatly affects health is inactivity.

The digital age has made both adults and kids more sedentary. We often opt to sit in front of our computers instead of going outdoors.

Being physically active helps us maintain a healthier weight. It also improves our heart function.

Why?

Our heart is a muscle. Like all muscles, it needs to be exercised to stay fit. This is important for good blood circulation.

A Brazilian study notes that if you live a sedentary lifestyle, there is a 60% chance of being hypertensive. Engaging in exercise does the opposite. It lowers your blood pressure and cuts your risk of heart disease.

The type of exercise doesn’t matter. It can be aerobic, resistance or a combination of the two. They all work.

Researchers in Belgium compiled a total of 93 studies involving various types of exercise regimens.

What they found was endurance training, resistance training and a combination of the 2 all lowered blood pressure.

Even better, exercise works for resistant hypertension.

Resistant hypertension is having high blood pressure despite being on at least 3 anti-hypertensive medications. Often, this means your high BP is serious. So much so that a combination of 3 or more medicines can’t bring your blood pressure back to normal.

German researchers learned that in these instances, exercise was able to significantly lower blood pressure.

After an 8 to 12-week workout program on a treadmill, participants with resistant hypertension saw drops in their blood pressure. On average, their systolic BP went down 6 mm Hg. Their diastolic BP was lower by 3 mm Hg .

Taking Action:

Physical activity and exercise are effective in lowering blood pressure. It works even when a cocktail of anti-hypertensive drugs aren’t able to do so.

The key is getting active.

You can do aerobic training, resistance training or a combination of both. You don’t even need a gym. Just being active works.

This means you can do thinks like cleaning the home, gardening or walk. They’re all forms of physical activity that’s free.

Here’s an example.

Researchers at the Università degli Studi di Palermo in Italy learned that a 6 week fast walking program is effective. It reduced the blood pressure of hypertensive participants. They saw drops from 143 mm Hg to 135 mm Hg (systolic), and from 91 mm Hg to 84 mm Hg (diastolic).

So how much exercise should you do?

The American Heart Association recommends that:

1. Healthy people should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week.

2. Each session should last at least 10 minutes.

This amounts to 30 minutes for 5 days. Or, a little over 20 minutes daily.

It also recommends:

1. Including flexibility and stretching and into your routine.

2. Spending at least 2 days for muscle strengthening. This keeps your muscles and bones strong.

Don’t forget moderate intensity.

Moderate intensity exercise is around 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate.

You can compute it using the equation here from the Mayo Clinic. Or, use this online target heart rate calculator.

 

3. Go for Power Walks

Okay. You don’t have the time or money to join a gym.

Try walking.

Many doctors recommend walking. It is a great way to get healthy. And, it is effective for lowering your blood pressure.

A review of prior studies on walking and blood pressure by the Tzu Chi University in Taiwan proves this.

You can make extra time for a walking routine. Or, you incorporate walking into your daily commute.

A study in Japan observed that in over 6,000 men, the duration they walked to work was linked to the risk of high blood pressure.

Those whose walked to work 21 minutes or more had a 30% less chance of high blood pressure compared to those who walked less than 10 minutes.

Why Japan?

Japan’s population owns the longest overall life expectancy in the world. They currently average around 84 years old.

If you live somewhere where taking walks outside isn’t possible, try doing it indoors.

The Moji Ekisaikai Hospital in Japan found that walking in the office or at home improved blood pressure. As a bonus, it also reduced triglyceride levels.

Taking Action:

If you have the ability to do it, then shoot for 10,000 steps a day. It is a great way to get fit.

Plus, research also tells us that doing 10,000 steps daily for 12 weeks reduces systolic blood pressure by 10 mm Hg and diastolic BP by 8 mm Hg.

The advantage of the 10,000 steps a day program is that you don’t need to bother about intensity or duration. And, still get the anti-hypertensive benefits.

If 10,000 steps is too much, start with 5,000 and slowly build up.

When it comes to walking for blood pressure, how long should you walk?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) found that walking for 30 minutes using 50% effort yielded the best results. Doing so keeps blood pressure at lower levels for 4 hours or more.

 

4. Eat a Healthy Balanced Diet

One of the main causes of hypertension is an unhealthy diet.

This can be from too much junk food or processed and packaged foods. It can also result from eating out too often.

Food that is packaged or served in restaurants include a lot of sodium. The sodium helps keep the food preserved longer and make them taste better.

Salt, which is made up of mostly sodium helps draw out the flavor in food. This is why cooks and chefs use it to season food.

The western diet is one that’s high in calories, fat, sugars, sodium and red meat. All of these promote hypertension.

Taking Action:

When it comes to eating for blood pressure, cooking your own food is the way to go. This includes buying the groceries yourself. This way you’ll be able to read the nutrition labels. It also lets you control the ingredients in your meals.

For a guide on reading food labels, see the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) page here.

Besides preparing your own food, you can also change your diet. Here are 2 very effective diets for blood pressure and heart health.

a. DASH Diet

The DASH Diet was created by the National Institutes of Health. It was developed to help people deal with high blood pressure without medication.

The diet helps limits sodium to 2,300 mg per day. It also breaks down the number of servings you should have for each food group.

The DASH diet focuses on more servings of healthy grains, proteins, fruits and vegetables. And, limiting fat and sweets.

b. Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet has been proven to reduce blood pressure. As an extra, it also lowers cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels.

It is based on the diet patterns of the countries that are surrounded or near the Mediterranean Sea. These include Spain, Greece and the southern part of Italy.

The diet is high in whole grains, olive oil, herbs, beans, fish and seafood. It is low on meats and sweets.

It is high in healthy fats like olive oil and nuts. And, low in sugars and meat. Together, they have been shown to be effective for lowering BP and improving heart health.

 

5. Eat Fish at Least a Couple of Times a Week

One of the reasons the Mediterranean diet is effective in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease is its heavy reliance on fish and healthy oils.

Fish is a great source of protein. One 3 oz. serving gives you between 21 grams to 25 grams, depending on the type of fish.

What makes fish different from other animal sources of protein is that it isn’t high on saturated fat.

Instead, it contains omega-3 fatty acids. This kind of fat is healthy for the heart.

The Omega-3 content helps increase good cholesterol and decreases triglycerides. It also assists in reducing blood pressure. Together, they lower your risk of heart disease.

Note that not all species of fish are high in Omega-3. Some are, some aren’t.

Those with lots of omega-3 are the fatty fish. These include tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines.

Due to its heart-healthy benefits, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish, especially fatty fish, at least twice a week.

Researchers in Australia also observed that adding high omega-3 fish to your diet not only helps lower blood pressure but also helps you lose weight. Thanks to fish, its 63 participants saw an average weight loss of 12.3 lbs. in 16 weeks.

When fish was added to their diets, the average systolic BP went down by 6 mm Hg. Diastolic BP numbers dropped by 3 mm Hg.

Adding a weight loss regimen further increased the benefits. The fish and weight loss regimen cut systolic BP by 13 mm Hg and diastolic BP by 9 mm Hg.

So in summary, omega 3 polyunsaturated fats found in fatty fish help lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease.

Fish Oil Supplements

If you aren’t able to get enough servings of fish, you can supplement with fish oil.

The Hospital Universitario Santa Cristina in Spain found that getting 3 grams or more daily of Omega-3 from fish oil supplements or fish lowers blood pressure.

Also, researchers at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. saw that in 17 studies, fish oil supplements reduced blood pressure in hypertensive individuals.

Taking Action:

Adding fish to your diet, especially those high in omega 3 fats, help reduce inflammation, improve heart health and also help lower blood pressure.

The AMA recommends getting two 3.5 oz. servings of fish per week. This is around ¾ of a cup if you’re using canned fish.

Fish is a much better protein alternative if you’re trying to lower your blood pressure.

A study by the University of Oxford in the U.K. compared 4 categories of food eaters. They were those who ate meat, those who ate fish, vegans and vegetarians.

They found that meat eaters had the highest average blood pressure. Vegans had the lowest. In general though, non-meat eaters had lower BP compared to meat eaters.

This means fish is better than meat for blood pressure reduction. But, going with non-animal protein sources offers even more.

Being vegetarian or vegan isn’t for everyone. It can also be difficult to make sure you get all your nutrients in.

So, adding fish to your diet and having a day or two of no meat weekly can help improve your blood pressure.

 

6. Keep Sodium to 2,300 mg or Less; 1,500 mg If You’re Hypertensive

The average American consumes 3,400 mg of sodium daily.

This is around 50% more than the 2,300 mg daily recommended limit suggested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

If you’re hypertensive or at high risk of developing hypertension, the limit goes down further to 1,500 mg per day.

Sodium is one of the primary causes of high blood pressure.

When you consume a lot of sodium, you feel bloated. That’s because the body retains water, which it later uses to flush out the sodium.

The extra fluid in the body puts more stress on the heart and the blood vessels. As a result, it causes higher blood pressure.

To give you an idea, 1 teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium. That’s equal to the FDA’s recommended limit.

Research shows that limiting salt consumption lowers blood pressure by between 4 and 8 mm Hg. Larger improvements are seen when combines with physical activity.

Taking Action:

Salt is hard to totally cut out from our diet.

The problem is almost all foods contain sodium. This is true even when you don’t add any salt to them.

This reality makes cutting down on sodium hard to do.

As a start, try limiting your sodium intake to 2,300 mg daily. This is for those who don’t have high blood pressure.

If you do have hypertension, 1,500 mg of sodium a day is the goal.

For flavor, one good alternative to salt are herbs and spices.

 

7. Check Your Blood Sugar… and Get in Under Control

A lot of the focus with lowering blood is on sodium control. And rightfully so.

One less obvious place to look is you blood sugar.

People who suffer from diabetes have high blood sugar levels or insulin resistance.

Often, they have high blood pressure as well.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 2 out of 3 diabetics have high blood pressure.

There’s some good news.

If you’re trying to avoid high blood sugar, or are hypertensive, cutting down on sugary drinks will help improve your numbers.

Sugar sweetened beverages like sodas are linked to higher blood pressure.

 

8. Increase You Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium Intake

Most physicians will tell you to reduce your sodium intake to control blood pressure.

As we mentioned above, this is a good way to prevent or regulate hypertension.

But, because our bodies are so complex, one mineral or nutrients doesn’t tell the whole story. There are so many biochemical reactions happening at the same time that you can’t just focus on one.

This is why getting the proper micronutrients helps keep high BP at bay.

When it comes to blood pressure control, 3 other important minerals come into play. They are:

Potassium

Of the 3 listed here, potassium is the most important as far as blood pressure goes. It plays the role of negating sodium’s ill effects.

Balancing your sodium with potassium produces as much as 8 mm Hg and 4 mm Hg reductions in systolic and diastolic numbers.

So, along with decreasing sodium, increasing your potassium helps lower blood pressure more effectively. Foods like bananas, avocados, spinach and sweet potatoes are some examples of foods high in potassium.

Also, increasing your potassium through diet becomes even more important if you aren’t able to reduce your sodium consumption.

Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the unsung nutrients. Most people are deficient in magnesium.

This is also why it can make a big difference in improving your BP. Fixing this problem can significantly lower your blood pressure.

Magnesium helps our blood vessels relax. This in turn, helps in relieving high blood pressure.

Studies show that getting more magnesium through diet or supplements helps treat and prevent hypertension. It also lowers cardiovascular risk.

Calcium

Calcium keeps our bones healthy and strong. The good news is getting sufficient calcium also helps regulate many cardiovascular functions.

Each of these nutrients will help fight hypertension.

But keeping sodium low while increasing your potassium, magnesium and calcium produces better results. This is shown by a study from the Netherlands.

Taking Action:

Cut the amount of sodium in your diet.

Plus, make sure to get enough potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Getting potassium is easy. Magnesium and sometimes calcium may be more challenging.

If that’s the case, try using supplements.

 

9. Limit Alcohol to 1 to 2 Drinks per Day

Excess alcohol can raise our blood pressure.

Though it’s worth noting that certain types of alcohol, like red wine, offer health benefits.

The thing is, whether you drink beer, wine or spirits, limiting the amount your consume is key. Doing so helps control or prevent high blood pressure.

Alcohol temporarily increases our blood pressure. With regular excessive drinking, blood pressure will stay high.

This high level eventually damages your blood vessels and makes your heart work hard.

According to an article in the Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology journal, regular alcohol consumption increases your risk of hypertension by 16%. Each 10 grams of alcohol increases your blood pressure by 1 mm Hg.

A study by the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil also found that the more alcohol you drink the higher the blood pressure increase. It observed that 30 grams of alcohol a day is enough to push you blood pressure up.

It’s also interesting to note that blood pressure drops 3 hours after consuming the drink. But, it would then go up and stay high the next 13 to 23 hours. Only after 24 hours or more have passed does BP come back down.

Curiously, drinking small amounts infrequently, was linked to lower blood pressure compared to drinking small amounts regularly.

If you suffer from hypertension, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol also increases your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease by 12 times.

This is reason enough to avoid binge drinking if you already have high blood pressure.

Taking Action:

Alcohol is something we all enjoy.

Having it in moderation is key. That’s because it is easy to drink more than you should.

When it comes to avoiding high blood pressure, limiting yourself to 1 to 2 drinks a day seems to offer benefits. But more than that will have the opposite effects.

The illustration below is a guide that shows how much one drink exactly is. You’ll notice this will depend on what you’re drinking.

It’s also worth noting that your race affects your risk for hypertension.

A study found that African Americans are more susceptible to hypertension. This is especially true if you drink a lot of alcohol.

The same is true for women. Alcohol seems to produce a more pronounced blood pressure effect on the female gender compared to men.

This is one of the reasons why the American Heart Association recommends men limit themselves to 1 to 2 standard drinks a day. Women to only 1 drink per day.

 

10. Lower Your Caffeine Consumption

Most of us enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. It helps wake us up and get us ready for the day.

That “pick me up” feeling we get from coffee comes from its caffeine content.

How much caffeine you consume becomes more essential if you’re at risk of high blood pressure or are hypertensive.

Cutting down on caffeine will help lower your BP numbers.

Do note that caffeine’s effects on blood pressure isn’t the same for everyone. It affects some more than others.

One study noted that caffeine increased blood pressure. Its effect was seen in all its participants by a mean of 4 mm Hg. But, those who were hypertensive or at higher risk of high blood pressure, showed bigger increases. All it took was 250 mg of caffeine.

Interestingly, while there’s caffeine in coffee, coffee drinkers don’t experience as much of the blood pressure effect. There are a couple of meta-analyses on related studies, here and here.

They show that caffeine increases blood pressure by a significant amount. But, when consumed through coffee, even in the long term, it doesn’t produce as much of an increase.

Taking Action:

Caffeine in present in more than just coffee.

It is in dark chocolate and many of the coffee, mocha and chocolate flavored products. You’ll find it in cakes, ice cream and even candies.

Cutting down on your caffeine intake is the way to go. Also, limiting how much coffee you drink daily helps keep blood pressure in check.

 

11. Drink Tea

When it comes to health, a good alternative to alcohol or coffee is tea.

Tea comes in many varieties. So, you can choose among them.

What makes tea beneficial for blood pressure is the presence of antioxidants.

Depending on the tea variety you’re drinking you’ll find different ingredients. This is also why different teas have different effects on blood pressure.

A study done in China discovered that green tea offers more blood pressure lowering ability compared to black tea. It offered about 2 mm Hg decreases in both systolic and diastolic figures. Black tea had slightly less effect. But, still lowered both numbers.

What’s important to note with drinking tea for blood pressure reduction purposes is that is doesn’t offer much of an immediate effect. Instead, studies suggest that long term tea drinking is what produces results.

Taking Action

Instead of drinking alcohol or coffee, try drinking water and tea instead.

Water doesn’t contain calories and helps hydrate the body.

Meanwhile, tea comes with polyphenols that are proven to be beneficial to health.

Among the many tea varieties those that have shown to help with blood pressure include green, black, oolong and hibiscus.

We particularly like green tea which contains catechins. The catechins in green tea have been shown to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Plus, the lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol as well.

 

12. Quit Smoking

According to the Real Cost, a campaign by the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, smoking a cigarette produces over 7,000 chemicals.

Many of these chemicals are harmful to your health. Among them are nicotine and carbon monoxide.

These compounds cause damage to your lungs. Plus, they harm your heart and increase your blood pressure.

With each puff of a smoke, carbon monoxide gets into your bloodstream.

This hampers our red blood cells’ ability to function efficiently. As a result, our organs aren’t able to get the oxygen they need. And, it becomes harder to breathe.

This forces the heart to work harder. It has to push more blood out to get enough oxygen to the organs.

Smoking also damages blood vessels by constricting them. This constriction also forces the heart work harder.

A large study involving 14,000 men and women found that smokers had higher blood pressure.

Related research also shows that the first smoke of the day causes a bigger increase in blood pressure and heart rate compared to subsequent sessions. Though the next smoking sessions still did increase BP each time.

This first cigarette of the day causes a 7% rise in systolic BP and 10% increase in diastolic BP. In addition, it ups your heart rate by 25% too. This shows how immediate smoking’s effects are.

Passive smokers aren’t free of its harmful effects either.

A study performed at the Erciyes University School of Medicine in Turkey shows that breathing cigarette smoke or staying in room with smokers increased the non-smoker’s blood pressure. The longer you inhaled the smoke, the higher your blood pressure increases.

Taking Action:

Smoking doesn’t offer any positive to the body.

While quitting may be difficult to do, it’s a must for lowering blood pressure.

 

13. Lower Your Stress Levels

Everyone feels stress at some point in life.

This can be from studying for a test or speaking in front of a large audience.

Stress is our body’s primal fight or flight response.

It appears in situations when we’re  in harm’s way. Or, facing something we’re not accustomed to.

In the short term, stress helps the body cope with these situations. It releases hormones like cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline).

These hormones make our heart beat faster and raise our blood pressure. It’s also what makes us more alert, give us more strength or energy than we normally have.

The thing is, stress is meant to be short-term. It should subside when the situation or threat passes.

The problem is, many of us experience long-term stress. This is what’s called chronic stress.

Chronic stress means that strain or stressor is always there. This makes it harmful to health. It causes your blood pressure to stay high. And, it makes our heart work harder. This eventually increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Stress itself is part of the problem. The more important thing though, is what you do to handle the stress. This is what contributes to potentially increasing your blood pressure.

Some people eat junk food or sweets. There are also those who drink or smoke. Others keep worrying, or worse go into depression.

Higher blood pressure can be an effect of a stressful social environment. Or, it can be something that’s psychological.

One of the most common causes of stress is that from work. Studies suggest that job strain and fear of losing one’s job can cause hypertension.

As you would expect, your blood pressure levels also adjusts based on different times of the day when work gets more strenuous.

Taking Action:

Find a way to lower your stress levels.

Also, get some relaxation time.

These are a couple of good ways to help your blood pressure.

If you’re swamped at work, try to keep weekends free for more relaxing activities.

Here are few proven ways to lower stress levels, and blood pressure in the process.

  1. Meditation: Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure. One example is transcendental meditation (TM). In this practice, your detach yourself from your anxieties. TM has been proven to lower both systolic and diastolic numbers by between 3 to 5 mmHg.
  2. Yoga: Yoga is beneficial to both mind and body. It clears your mind as you focus. Plus, it helps build strength, flexibility and balance. A meta-analysis of 17 studies linking yoga and hypertension found that doing yoga brought down blood pressure.
  3. Listening to Music: This one is the simplest. But, it is effective. Relaxing to music helps soothe stress. A review of past studies revealed that music was beneficial to both blood pressure and heart rate. Another study found that listening to music you like or classical music, were the best at negating stress.

 

14. Cut Down on Hours Spent at Work if You’re Doing a Lot of Overtime

Stress can come from different things. This can range from relationships to dealing with traffic.

One of the most common sources of stress is work. This can be from deadlines or long hours.

If you suffer from hypertension or are at risk of high blood pressure limiting your time at work is key. Reducing those overtime hours and avoiding shifts will also help.

The Hitachi Health Care Center in Japan found that workers who regularly did overtime had higher average blood pressure than groups that only did overtime periodically. Also, employees’ blood pressure rose during busy periods.

For more specific numbers we turn to a study by the Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine. Researchers found that those who worked less than 8 hours had lower blood pressure than those who worked between 10 to 10.9 hours. Their blood pressure levels were also lower than those who worked 11 or more hours.

In the same way, individuals who worked night shifts had higher risks of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

When it comes to working periods, a study observed that people who worked the night shift, around 8:00 pm to 4:00 am, experienced the longest duration when their blood pressure stays high. In contrast, the shortest time this occurs is for afternoon shifts, from 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm.

Taking Action:

Being in full control of your work hours and work schedule isn’t always possible.

But, knowing the facts above:

  • working over 40 hours a week
  • and working night shifts

increase your high blood pressure risk.

This makes you more aware of the risks. This way you can figure out solutions to avoid these situations.

 

15. Do Deep Breathing

Deep breathing, or abdominal breathing, is a well-known relaxation method.

Instead of using our lungs to breathe, we breathe from our diaphragms. This type of breathing lets us increase the amount of oxygen to our brain. It also helps promote relaxation.

Spending 20 to 30 minutes of abdominal breathing cuts stress and anxiety. This is according to the American Institute of Stress.

Studies back that claim too.

One research is from the Japanese Medical and Dental Practitioners for the Improvement of Medical Care in Tokyo. The study observed that deep breathing reduced systolic blood pressure by 6.4 mmHg in non-hypertensive individuals.  It did better for untreated hypertensive patients (-10 mm Hg). The study also found that their heart rates slowed down as well.

Researchers in Estonia reached similar results. Here, 6 deep breaths a minute made blood pressure drop. Specifically, 9.1 mm Hg and 4.3 mm Hg in systolic and diastolic BP.

Taking Action:

This is probably one of the simplest things we can all do.

It improves blood pressure. And, it calms us during stressful situations.

Deep breathing also works with anxiety.

Here’s how to practice deep breathing.

  1. Sit in a comfortable chair with your back in an upright position.
  2. Relax and place one hand in your stomach.
  3. Breathe in through your nose using your diaphragm. You should feel your abdomen rise.
  4. Exhale through your mouth.

We’ve included a video demonstration below. It that goes through the basics of how to do abdominal breathing to help reduce blood pressure.

 

Monitor Your Blood Pressure at Home and See Your Doctor Regularly

Home monitoring can help you keep tabs on your blood pressure. It will make certain your lifestyle changes are working. And, alert you and your doctor to potential health complications.

Blood pressure monitors are widely available. You don’t need a prescription to buy one. To start, talk to your doctor about home monitoring. They’ll guide you on what and how to do it.

In addition to home monitoring, regular doctor visits are also key to controlling your blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is under control, you might need to visit your doctor only every six to 12 months. How often your clinic visits are will depend on other conditions you may have.

If your blood pressure isn’t well-controlled, your doctor will likely want to see you more frequently.