If you have high blood pressure, then you’re probably not surprised that it’s common, although you may be surprised to learn that almost half of adults, over 100 million people, have high blood pressure in the US.
The toll high blood pressure has on our health is devastating.
High blood pressure increases the risk for heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and several other life-threatening health problems. High blood pressure causes about 1,000 deaths in the US PER DAY.
What’s even more disturbing to me is most of these deaths are preventable. High blood pressure is almost always treatable with lifestyle changes and inexpensive medication, yet less than half of people with high blood pressure have it under control.
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Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Medication
High blood pressure medications are critically important and are necessary for many people to achieve blood pressure control. However, many of my patients are not aware there are several highly effective ways to lower blood pressure without medication.
Here are the five best ways to lower your blood pressure without medication:
- Physical Activity: Even a modest level of physical activity, over time, can make a significant difference in your blood pressure. If you’re not used to exercising, start slow. Five or 10 minutes a day of your favorite activity can be just the start you need to build an exercise habit and allow you to build up to the 150 minutes a week of moderate activity recommended by national guidelines.
- Healthy Diet: I recommend cutting out highly processed food (packaged foods typically high in added sugar or refined grains). Watching your salt intake can be important if you have high blood pressure, but keep in mind that most of the salt in our diets comes from processed foods and restaurants.
- Weight Loss: Losing even 5% of your body weight has been proven to significantly lower blood pressure, and 10% has been shown to improve other health conditions such as atrial fibrillation dramatically. The only proven non-surgical strategy for lasting weight loss is to change your habits. Temporary fixes like restrictive diets, extreme exercise, injections, and meal replacement programs might work in the short run, but the results rarely last.
- Limit alcohol intake (less than one drink per day): A recent study showed that people who drank 7-13 drinks per week were 53% more likely to have stage I hypertension. Those who drank more than 14 drinks per week had a 69% higher risk of hypertension.
- Not smoking: Smoking cessation can modestly lower blood pressure and dramatically lower the risk of future heart disease.
In addition to these lifestyle changes, avoid regular use of anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen and naproxen, and treat sleep apnea if you have it.
One of the more gratifying events in my practice is when a patient can lower or even eliminate blood pressure medications because of healthier lifestyle choices.
If you have high blood pressure, don’t miss out on this powerful therapy.
You might also be interested in Three New Recommendations Everyone with High Blood Pressure Should Know