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Ways to Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure raises your chances of having both heart attackand stroke. It’s important to know your numbers, because if you have high blood pressure you’ll want to bring those numbers down. Talk to your doctor about the best ways for you to lower your blood pressure. Here are some things they may suggest. 

Lose Weight

You’ll lower your systolic blood pressure (the first number in your blood pressure results) by 5 to 20 points for every 20 pounds you lose. In fact, if you're overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds can help lower blood pressure. The weight loss goal is to get your body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.

Weight loss will also help with sleep apnea -- when your breathing briefly stops multiple times while you sleep. (It can raise your blood pressure and make your heart beat irregularly.) Shed pounds slowly with a steady mix of healthy eatingand exercise.

Eat Healthy

A program called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is considered by many to be the best diet when it comes to managing and lowering bloodpressure. Stick to it and watch your systolic blood pressure drop 8 to 14 points.

Its basic rules are to stay away from or cut back on:

  • Foods high in total and saturated fat
  • Processed foods
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Carbohydrates
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol (no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman; two or less if you’re a man)
  • Fruits and vegetables, especially berries, which are high in antioxidants
  • Whole grains
  • High-protein foods, like unsalted nuts
  • Foods high in potassium and magnesium, like leafy greens or beans
  • Calcium-rich foods, like low-sugar yogurt

Get Regular Exercise

Exercise is the soulmate to eating right. You’re more likely to lose weight if you exercise and follow a healthy diet. Official recommendations call for at least half an hour of exercise most days of the week.

Reduce Your Sodium Intake

It’s a prime offender in raising blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends that people with hypertension keep it under 1,500 milligrams a day. Check your food labels to see how much you’re getting.

Reduce Your Stress

Lowering your stress helps keep your blood pressure normal. Try mind-body exercises like yoga and tai chi. Meditation can also help with stress, as can listening to calming music, or making music.

Drink Less Alcohol

You can bring down your systolic blood pressure 2 to 4 points when you limit yourself to one alcoholic drink a day (for women) or two drinks (for men). One drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

Quit Smoking

Swearing off cigarettes is probably the single best thing you can do for your heart. It’s good for your health in general, too. Not only does smoking hurt you over the long term, but your blood pressure goes up every time you have a cigarette. 

Take Prescription Medications

For some people, lifestyle changes are enough to get and keep blood pressure under control. But many people need medication too. It’s important to take it exactly as your doctor prescribes.

Consider Taking Vitamins and Supplements

Research shows that a few vitamins and minerals may be helpful in lowering blood pressure. But talk to your doctor before taking any

Vitamin C: This has antioxidants that protect the linings of your blood vessels. Orange juice is a good source, as are fruits like kiwi and strawberries, and vegetables like broccol

Potassium: This helps your body get rid of sodium through your pee. Men should aim for 3,400 mg a day, and women around 2,600. 

Vitamin D: This helps make the enzyme renin, which is linked to blood pressure health. You can get vitamin D from fatty fish, like salmon or mackerel, or milk.

Get Quality Sleep

Like several other body functions, such as your heart rate and breathing rate, your blood pressure goes down when you’re asleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, that means your blood pressure stays high for longer.

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