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How can I lower my blood pressure?

You can lower your blood pressure by making lifestyle changes. This includes eating a healthy diet, limiting salt intake, losing weight, exercising regularly, cutting down on alcohol and caffeine and avoiding tobacco use. Dietary changes, such as those described in the DASH diet, have been shown to reduce blood pressure in 14 days, and losing as few as 10 pounds has been shown to lower blood pressure, as well. The DASH diet is high in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and low on fats and cholesterol. If you are on medication, you must take it as directed by a physician on a regular basis. One common reason for uncontrolled hypertension is not adhering to medication treatment. You should also monitor your blood pressure at home and share this information with your physician.
Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics

Here are some easy ways to lower blood pressure. Number one is lose weight. Number two is be active. Did you know that your heart is a muscle? You have to exercise it to keep it strong. Number three is watch sodium intake. Limit sodium to 1,500 mg/day. These are great ways to get started and stay healthy.

You can change several dietary and lifestyle habits to help lower your blood pressure, among them your weight and physical activity level.

Obese individuals are twice as likely to have hypertension. Even a modest weight loss can have an impact. Losing as few as 10 pounds can reduce blood pressure and may prevent high blood pressure in overweight individuals, even if they haven't yet reached a healthy weight. Additional weight loss can have an even more dramatic effect. 

Regular physical activity can lower blood pressure even if weight loss hasn't occurred.
Amy Jamieson-Petonic
Nutrition & Dietetics
One of the best ways to lower blood pressure is to follow a DASH diet. DASH stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension, and includes foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, high in potassium, low fat dairy and healthy oils such as nuts and seeds. Lean protein is also important.

The DASH diet has been shown to lower blood pressure along with physical activity.
 
Hypertension, or elevated blood pressure, is one of several a risk factors for Coronary Artery Disease and hardening of the arteries (also called atherosclerosis).

Your blood pressure has two numbers. The upper number is called the systolic blood pressure. A systolic blood pressure less than 140 is normal. The lower number is the diastolic blood pressure. A diastolic blood pressure less than 90 is normal. Blood pressure slightly higher than this is considered mild hypertension and can be reduced by weight loss, quitting smoking and a decreased salt intake. Sometimes, however, medications might be necessary.

Six classes of medications treat hypertension:
  • Diuretics -- Also called "water pills," these medications excrete extra water and salt to lower blood pressure.
  • Vasodilators -- These work by relaxing blood vessels to lower blood pressure.
  • Anti-Adrenergic drugs -- Commonly called alpha and beta blockers, these medications block a part of the nervous system that can increase blood pressure.
  • ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors -- These medications dilate (enlarge) blood vessels by preventing the production of angiotensin (a blood vessel constrictor).
  • Angiotensin receptor antagonists -- These are similar to ACE inhibitors but they block the effects of angiotensin rather than prevent its production.
  • Calcium channel blockers -- These work by dilating blood vessels by blocking the calcium flow into cells (which is needed to constrict blood vessels).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.