If you or an older adult you love have been diagnosed with hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, you probably know how serious it can be. High blood pressure is linked to heart disease, stroke, and even some types of vision problems.
The good news is that high blood pressure can often be controlled without medication. Because lifestyle impacts blood pressure, it is possible to reduce the need for blood pressure medication by making some changes.
Six Natural Remedies for Managing High Blood Pressure
- Lose weight: This is tough for most of us, but shedding even 10 pounds of excess weight can lower your blood pressure. Weight loss can also make blood pressure medication more effective. That might help reduce the amount of blood pressure medicine you need to take.
- Eat healthy: Physicians often recommend the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet or a Mediterranean-style diet for patients struggling with high blood pressure. Both focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and limited amounts of dairy. Researchers say a healthy diet can help lower your blood pressure by as many as 8 to 14 points (mm Hg).
- Get moving: Physical activity is another natural way to reduce your blood pressure. If you’ve been leading a fairly sedentary life, it’s important to talk with your doctor first for their advice. They might suggest you begin by walking 10–15 minutes a day and increasing from there. Swimming is another senior-friendly form of exercise that can help lower blood pressure.
- Limit alcohol: Drinking may increase blood pressure while also reducing the effectiveness of blood pressure medication. Talk with your doctor for advice on how much alcohol is safe for you to drink. For seniors, one drink a day is typically the limit.
- Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke: Though many smokers are aware of the threat of lung cancer, they sometimes don’t realize that smoking is also linked to higher blood pressure. In fact, smoking can elevate your blood pressure by as much as 10 points for a full hour after you smoke! If you smoke throughout the day, you might be causing your blood pressure to stay high all day long. And if you live with a smoker, you are also at risk. Research shows that inhaling secondhand smoke is just as dangerous as smoking.
- Manage stress: It’s an unfortunate reality that stress can increase your blood pressure. With our often hectic lifestyles, many of us don’t even recognize when we are feeling stressed. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of the physical symptoms of stress such as headaches, grinding your teeth, and stomachaches. Once you are aware of the signs of stress, you can get to root of what is causing it and take steps to address it. Learning better breathing techniques is one way to reduce stress. Activities like meditation, yoga, and pilates are other good ways.
The Health Risk Calculator
The American Heart Association has a helpful online tool you can use to check yourself for risk factors associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. The interactive tool assesses factors such as cholesterol, exercise, and family medical history to help you identify your health risks. It’s a five-minute activity that can put you on track for a longer, healthier life.
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