January 31st, 2017 | Updated on July 23rd, 2020
When your blood pressure is too high for too long, it puts you at risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney damage or an aneurysm formation. The line between normal and raised blood pressure is not fixed and depends on your individual circumstances. However, most doctors agree that the ideal blood pressure for a physically healthy person is around 120/80mmHg.
It is easy to control hypertension without medicine and reduce the risk of heart disease through adopting the following lifestyle changes.
Those diagnosed with high BP often crib over having to take their daily medication dosage, but lifestyle changes can almost eliminate the high BP. The need for medication can be delayed, reduced or completely avoided with changes brought about by changes made in the lifestyle.
Here are the fifteen recommended lifestyle change strategies to keep your high BP under control.
15 Ways Of Controlling Hypertension Without Medicine
1. Reduce Your Weight And Waistline
Blood pressure often increases with increase in weight. In addition, overweight persons are at a higher risk of sleep apnea or disrupted breathing when you sleep raising your blood pressure higher still.
Weight loss is known to be a very effective lifestyle change strategy for keeping the blood pressure at a normal level.
In addition to losing weight, it helps to keep an eye on your waistline because tummy fat or a big waistline definitely raises the risk of high BP.
The recommended waistline for men is 40 inches or 102cms or lower, while the risk of women increases if their waist inches beyond 35 inches or 89 cms.
Nevertheless, it is important to consult your doctor for right recommendation as these numbers vary for different ethnic groups
2. Regular Exercise Will Keep You Fit And Healthy
A regular exercise regimen for about 30 minutes most of the days of the week is known to lower the blood pressure by about 4 to 9 mm Hg.
It is especially important that the exercise or physical activities program you undertake is consistently maintained because once you stop this activity, the BP shoots up.
If your BP is slightly above the normal will do to practice regular exercise so that your BP doesn’t develop into full-blown case. In case, you already suffer from hypertension, regular exercise will certainly help you control it at normal levels.
Some of the popular physical activities for controlling high BP include dancing, swimming, jogging and brisk walking. In addition, you can also preferably undertake strength training. Your physician is the best guide to consult on your exercise program.
3. A Healthy Diet Can Keep The Doctor Away
A really healthy diet can lower your blood pressure by about 14 mm Hg. A healthy diet is rich in essential nutrients and micronutrients and is found in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains. The recommended diet is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
If you find your eating habits too tough to change, here are some recommended strategies to switch over to a healthy diet.
- Maintain a food diary to note what you eat every down and take a look at this diary every week. You may learn surprising facts about your eating habits and then it will be easy for you to monitor what you eat, why and when.
- Potassium has the potential to lower the impact of sodium on your blood pressure. So you may consider raising the level of potassium and its best sources include fruits and vegetables, not supplements. Your doctor is the best person to guide you on the right level of potassium for you.
- You can definitely avoid unhealthy and bad food habits by turning into a smart shopper. Make it a point to read food labels at the time you shop and comply strictly with your eating plan when eating out.
4. Less Sodium For A Healthy Heart
A slight reduction in sodium consumption goes a long way in controlling high BP. It can reduce your BP anywhere from 2 to 8 mm Hg.
Although the effect of sodium on blood pressure varies from one ethnic group to the other, ideally the limit of 2300 mg a day should be universally acknowledged.
However, some groups of people are highly sensitive to sodium, for them the recommended upper limit of sodium intake is 1500 mg a day or less.
These groups of people are identified as African-Americans, people in 51 or older age bracket, and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
Here are some tips to help you lower sodium content in your diet.
- Choose low sodium alternatives to the food you normally eat and don’t forget to read food labels to help you decide.
- If you cannot avoid eating processed food, try to eat fewer processed food.
- Avoid adding table salt to your food, just a tablespoon of salt contains 2300 mg sodium. Food can still be tasty with different spices and flavors.
- If you find it difficult to drastically cut down the quantum of salt, you may approach the gradual method. Overtime, your taste buds will adjust to low sodium diet.
5. Cut Down The Quantum Of Alcohol
According to experts, alcohol can be beneficial for health if taken in small amounts. It can bring down your BP by 2 to 4 mm Hg.
However, if you drink too much alcohol, it works just the opposite. Anything more than a drink a day for women and men over 65 and two a day for men under 65 is too much and therefore fraught with risk.
One drink translates into 5 ounces for wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor.
Going beyond the moderate level of alcohol may likely raise your Bp by several points and undermines the impact medications.
6. Stop Smoking For Good
Smoking definitely raises your blood pressure. Each stick you finish smoking is enough to raise your blood pressure for several minutes even after your cigarette is finished.
Quitting smoking on the other hand can get your pressure back to normal, regardless of age and quitters can expect substantial increases in their life expectancy.
7. Reduce Caffeine Intake To Be On Safe Side
The role of caffeine in blood pressure is still not thoroughly proven. However, those who are not habitually addicted to caffeine can experience rise in their blood pressure by as much as 10 mm Hg. However, in habitual coffee drinkers blood pressure can be affected minimally.
However, even if it is not clear how chronic caffeine ingestion impacts blood pressure, the possibility of a slight increase in blood pressure cannot be ruled out.
You can check your blood pressure before and 30 minutes after drinking coffee to determine the impact of caffeine on your blood pressure.
In case your blood pressure increases by 5 to 10 mm Hg, you can be pretty sure that you are sensitive to caffeine that can raise your blood pressure substantially. You may consult your doctor about your specific case in respect of caffeine sensitivity.
8. Managing Your Stress Is A Good Strategy
You may not realize how stress impacts your blood pressure. It is now well known that chronic stress contributes substantially to your high blood pressure.
Even occasional stress can raise your blood pressure especially if you react to stress level by taking recourse to alcohol and tobacco or to unhealthy food.
Develop a strategy to combat stress. Take time to think upon the sources of your stress. Some of the stressors can be finances, illness, or family. Once you identify the source of your stress, you can take steps to reduce or even eliminate stress.
Eliminating stress is not an impossible feat but you can certainly reduce it even if you cannot eliminate it. You can learn healthy ways to cope up with stress.
Here are some of the strategies to consider.
- There are things you can change and the things you can’t. Nevertheless you can certainly change your expectations. You must know when to say no and you can attempt to live within the limits you can manage. If you cannot change something, the best thing is to accept it.
- There are problems and most of the problems have solutions as well whether at work place or in the family. Discuss the problems with your boss when facing workplace challenges or you can discuss your family problems with your spouse and family members to seek an amicable solution.
- When you know your stress triggers, you would also know how to avoid them. Some of the triggers like spending time with bothersome people and driving in congested traffic areas can be easily avoided.
- You should be able to find time to doing things you enjoy. Give yourself 15 to 20 minutes each day sit quietly and do some relaxation exercises like pranayama or breathing exercises. Don’t rush through tasks but learn to enjoy whatever you are doing.
- Finally, learn to be grateful to others. It is nearly understood today that expressing gratitude to others reduces stressing feelings and thoughts.
9. Visit Your Physician Regularly And Check Your Blood Pressure At Regular Intervals
Monitoring your blood pressure at home can help you control blood pressure. It will also indicate how effectively you are adopting the life style changes. In addition it will keep you on the right track away from likely health problems.
Blood pressure monitors are available widely in the market, and you don’t need a doctor’s prescription for it. Discuss it with your doctor.
In addition, regular visits to your doctor ensure that your blood pressure can be controlled efficiently. Once your blood pressure comes within control, you may need to make not more than one visit every six months or less depending on your condition.
However, your doctor may want you to visit them more frequently if your blood pressure is not under control.
10. Don’t Shy Away From Friend And Family Support
Support from friends and family is a very useful thing to have for your good health. Their association will motivate you while they may encourage you to visit your doctor, do exercises and take care of yourself.
While family and friends can be extremely supportive, you may still benefit by joining a supportive group. You will find people in the support group who can give you moral and emotional boost. They can help you cope up with your condition practically.
11. Read Labels
According to Harvard Health, we at far too much dietary sodium, up to three times the recommended total amount, which is 1,500 milligrams (mg) daily for individuals with high blood pressure.
It is very difficult to lower dietary sodium without reading labels, unless you prepare all of your own food.
Beware in particular of what the American Heart Association has dubbed the “salty six,” common foods where high amounts of sodium may be lurking:
- breads and rolls
- cold cuts and cured meats
12. Relieve stress with daily meditation or deep breathing sessions
According to Harvard Health, stress hormones constrict your blood vessels and can lead to temporary spikes in blood pressure. In addition, over time, stress can trigger unhealthy habits that put your cardiovascular health at risk. These might include overeating, poor sleep, and misusing drugs and alcohol. For all these reasons, reducing stress should be a priority if you’re looking to lower your blood pressure.
13. Do Not Smoke
According to CDC, Smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.
14. Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is important to your overall health, and enough sleep is part of keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Visit CDC’s Sleep and Sleep Disorders website for resources on how to get better sleep.
15. Add More Potassium to Your Diet
According to Penn Medicine, not only does potassium help regulate heart rate, it can also reduce the effects of sodium in the body.
“Potassium helps your body get rid of sodium and also eases tension in your blood vessel walls, both of which help to further lower blood pressure,” says Dr. Craft
The most effective way to increase your potassium intake is by adjusting your diet, as opposed to taking supplements. Potassium-rich foods include:
- Fruits like bananas, melons, oranges, apricots, avocados and tomatoes
- Milk, yogurt and cream cheese
- Leafy green vegetables, potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Tuna and salmon
- Nuts and seeds
Sources: mayoclinic.org, Harvard Health , CDC, Penn Medicines