5 simple ways to lower your blood pressure without medication, according to a cardiologist

Dr. Beth Abramson/a spread of fruit and nuts
Incorporating elements of the DASH diet can bring down high blood pressure.Image courtesy of Dr. Abramson/Claudia Totir - Getty Images
  • Half of US adults have high blood pressure.

  • Exercising three times a week can lower the risk of hypertension, according to Dr. Beth Abramson.

  • People should get their blood pressure checked at least yearly by a healthcare provider.

Half of all US adults have hypertension — which means high blood pressure, and only a quarter of them have it under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

High blood pressure can be caused by factors including genetics, smoking, having diabetes, and lack of physical activity.

It can increase the risk of heart attacks and heart disease, according to the CDC, so it is important to keep it under control whether that's through medication or lifestyle changes.

"Despite what people think, they can't feel their blood pressure and so it's a silent killer," said Dr. Beth Abramson, cardiologist and co-chair of the American College of Cardiology Hypertension Working Group.

She said it's important that people should get their blood pressure checked at least yearly by visiting their healthcare provider.

Dr. Abramson told Insider how high blood pressure levels can be lowered without medication:

Exercise 3 times a week

"Exercise and activity can lower blood pressure better than many of the evidence-based medications," Dr. Abramson said.

She recommended exercising for 30 minutes three times a week, including a warm-up and cool down. This will reduce blood pressure over the course of several months.

That exercise can include anything that makes you short of breath and sweaty, which tends to be cardio activity.

Dr. Abramson said that people should choose activities they enjoy the most, that can slot into a weekly routine.

"You don't have to put on Spandex or join a gym. Going for a brisk walk can make a huge difference."

She said three times a week is the minimum. "The more activity you do, the more likely you're likely to maintain blood pressure control."

One study showed that exercising from 30 to 60 minutes per week decreased blood pressure, and exercising for 61 to 90 minutes reduced it further.

If necessary, lose weight

"Losing weight, even losing 10 pounds in weight if you're overweight, can make a difference in blood pressure control," Dr. Abramson said.

The Trial of Hypertension Prevention, one of the biggest studies on high blood pressure, found that losing around 4.5 pounds resulted in lowered blood pressure. Of the people monitored in the study, 42% no longer had hypertension after losing the weight.

Drink less alcohol

There is a direct association between drinking and blood pressure, Dr. Abramson said.

She said: "If people are drinking two to three drinks per day, blood pressure will go up."

And so cutting down on alcohol intake will help lower blood pressure.

Binge drinking on the weekends will also have an effect on blood pressure levels. Dr. Abramson recommended people talk to their healthcare provider to assess if they're drinking too much.

Cut down your salt intake

Dr. Abramson said that cutting salt intake can help with blood pressure control.

The Trial of Hypertension Prevention study found that it was an effective way to reduce hypertension, even if weight loss did not occur.

Some people can suffer from salt sensitivity — where consuming sodium increases blood pressure more than the average person. For these people, cutting down salt intake can be especially important.

Half of people with hypertension have salt sensitivity, according to American Heart Association.

Try the DASH diet

DASH refers to Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and is an eating plan that emphasizes healthy food sources and limits unhealthy ones, the AHA said.

Dr. Abramson said that following the DASH diet carefully can significantly lower blood pressure but implementing elements of the diet is also useful for overall heart health.

This includes reducing red meat consumption and eating more fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Read the original article on Insider