3 Steps to Lower Your Blood Pressure Levels

If you have high blood pressure, you're not alone. Managing the condition is possible—and essential.

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Updated on March 13, 2024.

Your blood pressure is perhaps the most important set of health numbers you should know, because few things age your body as quickly as high blood pressure does. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure (also called hypertension), which caused or contributed to more than 691,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2021.

But if you know your blood pressure numbers and have a goal level, you can start doing more of what helps people reach their blood pressure goals. Blood pressure numbers refer to systolic blood pressure (the top number, when the heart is contracting and pumping blood to the rest of the body), and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number, when the heart is relaxing and filling with blood between heartbeats). While goals can vary from person to person depending on things like age and underlying health conditions, normal blood pressure is generally considered to be less than 120/80 mmHg. 

Understand the causes

There are several things which can cause high blood pressure: Eating too much salty processed and fast food, the stresses of daily life, our family heritage. And it's true that things like these—poor diet, stress, and genetics—can play a role. Lack of exercise and carrying excess weight are also major factors.

But there are also changes that happen inside your body that can lead to high blood pressure. And you may never know all the reasons your numbers are high.

Start with lifestyle changes

Here's what is certain about high blood pressure: It can be managed and treated.

First, try to follow a heart-healthy diet, such as a DASH-style diet that emphasizes whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein like chicken and low levels of salt and saturated fat (which is solid at room temperature).

Second, try to get regular physical activity, such as taking a daily walk if your healthcare provider (HCP) okays it. Over time, you could increase your level of exercise with other forms of moderate-intensity physical activity, like brisk walking, dancing, or light biking. Aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week, as you are able.

Both of these steps can help you maintain a healthy weight, boost your overall fitness, and manage your blood pressure levels. For some people with high blood pressure, a third key step may be necessary.

Consider medication when necessary

Depending on how well lifestyle approaches work, your HCP may also prescribe medication to help lower your blood pressure numbers. There are many medication options that can help manage high blood pressure.

In fact, at least 10 major classes of blood pressure pills are available today, including the newest class of medication that targets a chemical system responsible for the normal rising and falling of blood pressure, called the renin system. In some people, the renin system is too active, and that can lead to high blood pressure. For questions about these newer type of medications and whether your insurance covers them, ask your HCP about it.

Your HCP may even start you on more than one type of medication, because combining pills can work in different ways and help to lower your dose of medication, maximizing benefits while minimizing side effects.

Follow your treatment plan

Whatever treatment plan you and your HCP decide is right for you, following it is important for controlling high blood pressure. And if your blood pressure numbers aren't changing despite your best efforts, ask your HCP about other options that may help. Even a small drop in blood pressure can make a difference to your health, and lower your risk for health issues related to high blood pressure like heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and problems having erections (erectile dysfunction). 

Article sources open article sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facts About Hypertension. Last Reviewed: July 6, 2023.

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