Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a very common disorder. It can lead to other potentially fatal diseases, so it is helpful to know natural ways to reduce blood pressure.

The blood’s long-term force against the artery walls is high enough to produce health problems such as heart disease.

Also see: Foods That Increase Blood Flow, Life-Changing Benefits of Cardio, and the Dangers of Smoking.

The amount of blood your heart pumps, as well as the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries, influence your blood pressure.

The greater your blood pressure, the more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries become.

The measurement of blood pressure is in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). It has two numbers:

  • The top number (systolic pressure). The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
  • The bottom number (diastolic pressure). The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats.

The force exerted by a person’s blood against the walls of their blood vessels is known as blood pressure. The resistance of the blood vessels and the amount of effort the heart needs to do determine the pressure.

Natural ways to reduce blood pressure:

Nearly half of all individuals (1) in the United States have high blood pressure, although many of them are unaware of it.

Hypertension is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, which includes stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and aneurysms.

Blood pressure control is critical for maintaining health and lowering the risk of certain hazardous disorders.

How to lower blood pressure?

The typical first-line treatment for hypertension is lifestyle changes. The following are some suggestions for natural ways to reduce your blood pressure:

Regular physical exercise

Current guidelines urge that everyone, including those with hypertension, exercise for at least 150 minutes (2) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise per week.

Most individuals will benefit from strength training at least twice a week in addition to 150 minutes of exercise (3).

Every week, people should exercise for at least 5 days.

The following are some examples of appropriate activities:

  • walking
  • jogging
  • cycling
  • swimming

Stress reduction

Avoiding or learning to manage stress can help a person control blood pressure.

A few relaxation techniques that can help relieve stress are:

  • prayer
  • Epsom salt baths
  • warm baths
  • journaling
  • going on long walks

To cope with stress, people should avoid drinking alcohol (4) or using recreational drugs, as these might lead to high blood pressure and hypertension consequences.

Smoking has also been linked to an increase in blood pressure. Smoking cessation or avoidance lowers (5) the risk of hypertension, major heart disease, and other health problems.

Reducing salt intake

High sodium intake contributes to high blood pressure (7). Salt is the most common source of sodium in the diet.

People without hypertension should consume fewer than 2,300 milligrams (mg) (8) of sodium per day, according to the American Heart Association. This is about the same as one teaspoon.

To control their hypertension, people with hypertension should consume fewer than 1,500 mg of sodium each day.

Reduction of salt from your diet can help people with and without hypertension (9).

Stop alcohol consumption

Blood pressure can be raised by moderate to heavy alcohol consumption. In fact, just 1-2 ounces of alcohol consumption can elevate blood pressure.

“Studies have shown that a reduction in alcohol intake is effective in lowering the blood pressure both in hypertensives and normotensives and may help to prevent the development of hypertension.” (9)

Eating more fruits and vegetables and less fat

People with high blood pressure or those at high risk of developing high blood pressure should consume less saturated fat and more unsaturated fats.

According to experts (11), people with high blood pressure should eat more heart-healthy foods, such as:

  • whole grain, high fiber foods
  • a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • pulses, such as chickpeas, beans, and lentils
  • nuts
  • Omega-3 twice per week
  • non-tropical vegetable oils, such as olive oil

When designing a meal plan for someone with high blood pressure or who wants to maintain healthy blood pressure, it’s crucial to avoid trans fats, hydrogenated vegetable oils, animal fats, and processed fast foods.

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in flaxseeds, chia seeds, and olive oil, have been shown to protect the heart. These are still fats, though.

Despite the fact that they are generally healthy, persons who are at risk of hypertension should keep an eye on how much they have as part of their overall fat consumption.

Managing body weight

Excess body weight can contribute to hypertension (12). Weight loss causes a drop in blood pressure because the heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood around the body.

A well-balanced diet with calorie intake that is appropriate for the individual’s size, gender, and degree of activity will help.

The DASH diet

The DASH diet is recommended by the National Heart (13), Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in the United States for patients with high blood pressure. DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

DASH is a flexible and well-balanced eating plan based on NHLBI research, which claims that the diet:

  • lowers high blood pressure
  • improves levels of fats in the bloodstream
  • reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease

The main guidelines to this diet is to limit or eliminate saturated and trans fats, lower sodium intake, and increase fresh ingredients and whole grains.

Other dietary changes could lower a person’s risk of hypertension. According to 2014 (14) research, taking probiotic supplements for at least 8 weeks may help persons with hypertension.

Best supplements for high blood pressure

  • Magnesium is a mineral that regulates blood pressure and other body functions. A study was done by an Indiana University to prove if, in fact, magnesium regulates blood pressure. A meta-analysis of 34 clinical trials, with 2,028 participants. was done by the researchers. The results showed that the participants receiving a medium of 300 mg/day of magnesium for 1 month, had elevated magnesium levels and lower blood pressure. 
  • Vitamin C and D are great for overall health, and can help to manage blood pressure through helping other systems. They are part of a healthily running body, so if you are not receiving enough in your diet, consider using supplements.

getting blood pressure checked close up

Medication for high blood pressure

Hypertension can be treated with particular drugs. Doctors frequently recommend starting with a low dose. The majority of antihypertensive medicines have mild side effects.

People with hypertension may eventually need to take two or more (6) medications to control their blood pressure.

Hypertension medications include:

The medication that is prescribed is determined by the individual and any underlying medical issues that they may have.

Anyone taking antihypertensive medications should check the labels of any OTC meds they may be taking, such as decongestants, carefully. These over-the-counter medications may interact with the blood pressure meds they’re taking.

Is hypertension genetic?

A family history of hypertension “likely” plays a role in a person developing the condition. Family environmental factors may also play a part. For example, if a person lives in a household with an older relative with hypertension, they may be more likely to share lifestyle habits that increase their risk of hypertension (15).

Is high blood pressure considered heart disease?

Hypertension is not a type of heart disease. However, the condition may increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. The term “hypertensive heart disease” refers to heart conditions resulting from hypertension (16).

What causes high blood pressure?

Often, the reason of hypertension is unknown. In many circumstances, it is a symptom of a more serious problem.

Primary or essential hypertension is high blood pressure that is not caused by another ailment or disease. Doctors refer to high blood pressure as secondary hypertension when it is caused by an underlying ailment.

Multiple factors (17) can cause primary hypertension, including:

  • having obesity
  • insulin resistance
  • high salt intake
  • excessive alcohol intake
  • having a sedentary lifestyle
  • smoking

Secondary hypertension is a complication of another health disease for particular reasons.

Because the kidneys can no longer filter out fluid, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common cause of high blood pressure. Hypertension is caused by this extra fluid. CKD (18) can also be caused by hypertension.

  • Hypertension can also be caused by the following conditions:
  • diabetes, due to kidney problems and nerve damage
  • pheochromocytoma, a rare cancer of an adrenal gland
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a disorder of the cortisol-secreting adrenal glands
  • hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland
  • hyperparathyroidism, which affects calcium and phosphorous levels
  • pregnancy
  • sleep apnea
  • obesity

Risk factors for high blood pressure

Hypertension is caused by a number of reasons.

  • Age: People above the age of 65 are more likely to have hypertension(19). As the arteries harden and constrict due to plaque formation, blood pressure can rise consistently with age.
  • Ethnicity: Some ethnic groups are more likely than others to develop hypertension. African Americans, for example, are at a higher risk than other ethnic groups (20).
  • Weight: Being overweight is a major risk factor for hypertension.
  • Alcohol and tobacco use: Blood pressure can be raised by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or smoking on a regular basis.
  • Sex: Males have a higher risk of acquiring hypertension than females, according to a 2018 review(21). This is only true until a woman reaches menopause.
  • Existing health conditions: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and high cholesterol levels can lead to hypertension, especially as people age(22).

Hypertension symptoms

Because a person with hypertension may not have any symptoms (23), it is often referred to as a “silent killer.” Hypertension, if left untreated, can harm the heart, blood vessels, and other organs, including the kidneys.

Blood pressure should be checked on a regular basis.

High blood pressure can lead to the following complications in uncommon and severe cases:

  • sweating
  • anxiety
  • sleeping problems
  • blushing

However, most people with hypertension will experience no symptoms at all (24).

If high blood pressure becomes a hypertensive (25) crisis, a person may experience headaches (26) and nosebleeds.

Complications of hypertension

Long-term hypertension can lead to difficulties due to atherosclerosis (27), which occurs when plaque forms on the inside walls of blood arteries, narrowing them.

As a result of the narrowing, hypertension worsens because the heart has to work harder to circulate the blood.

Atherosclerosis caused by hypertension can result in:

  • heart failure and heart attacks
  • aneurysm, or an atypical bulge in the wall of an artery that can burst
  • kidney failure
  • stroke
  • amputation
  • hypertensive retinopathies in the eye, which can lead to blindness

Regular blood pressure monitoring can help people avoid these more severe complications.

Signs of high blood pressure

People can use a sphygmomanometer, often known as a blood pressure monitor, to keep track of their blood pressure.

Blood pressure monitoring may not always necessitate a visit to the doctor.

Blood pressure monitors for home use can be purchased online.

High blood pressure for a short period of time is a common reaction to a variety of events. Acute stress and strenuous activity, for example, might temporarily raise blood pressure in someone who is otherwise healthy.

As a result, a diagnosis of hypertension necessitates a series of readings demonstrating persistently elevated blood pressure over time.

Hypertension is defined by the International Society of Hypertension as a blood pressure that is persistently higher than 140 over 90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) (28).

The systolic value of 130 mm Hg is the pressure created by the heart as it pumps blood around the body. The diastolic pressure of 80 mm Hg refers to the pressure that the heart experiences as it relaxes and fills with blood.

The following blood pressure ranges are defined by the International Society of Hypertension 2020 guidelines:

  Systolic (mm Hg) Diastolic (mm Hg)
Normal blood pressure less than 130 less than 85
High-normal blood pressure 130–139 85–89
Grade 1 hypertension 140–159 90–99
Grade 2 hypertension over 160 over 100

Wait 2 or 3 minutes before repeating the test if the reading indicates a hypertensive crisis.

If the reading remains the same or rises, a medical emergency has occurred.

The person should go to the nearest hospital for help right away.

Summary on hypertension:

When a person’s blood pressure is continually high, they are diagnosed with hypertension. Hypertension raises the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.

Usually, hypertension is considered to be a constant value of at least 140/90 mm Hg, according to the International Society of Hypertension.

The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, on the other hand, advise hypertensive persons to keep their blood pressure below 130/80 mm Hg (29).

Hypertension is frequently caused by family history and lifestyle factors, although dietary and exercise adjustments can help people maintain a healthy blood pressure level.

More lifestyle articles:

How to Prevent Heart Disease

Healthy Aging

9 Best Heart Vitamins

Benefits of Cycling

Dangers of Alcohol

Benefits of Drinking Water

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References:

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(2). Retrieved from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000678

(3). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/strength-training-and-blood-pressure

(4). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/305062

(5). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/241302

(6). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5992964/

(7). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/salt-reduction

(8). Retrieved from https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf

(9). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4105387/

(10). Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/limiting-alcohol-to-manage-high-blood-pressure#.WV5TKtPyvMI

(11). Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/aha-diet-and-lifestyle-recommendations#.WV5Tt9PyvMI

(12). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5655940/

(13). Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash-eating-plan

(14). Retrieved from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03469

(15). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/risk_factors.htm

(16). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539800/

(17). Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/causes/

(18). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/172179

(19). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension

(20). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4108512/

(21). Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29406364/

(22). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9152

(23). Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/why-high-blood-pressure-is-a-silent-killer

(24). Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/why-high-blood-pressure-is-a-silent-killer/what-are-the-symptoms-of-high-blood-pressure#.WhaasrSFgdU

(25). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hypertensive-crisis

(26). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/headaches

(27). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/247837

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(29). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6813156/