Blood Pressure Reducing Tricks That Actually Work

·3 min read

One third of Americans have high blood pressure, known as hypertension. "When your blood pressure is too high for too long, it puts you at risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney damage or an aneurysm formation," says Colin A. Craft, MD, physician at Penn Heart and Vascular Center Washington Square. Luckily there are some simple lifestyle changes that can help lower blood pressure. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Manage Stress Levels

woman puts hands on head, stressed, busy at work
woman puts hands on head, stressed, busy at work

Chronic, unchecked stress is linked to high blood pressure. "Anxiety and stress themselves don't necessarily elevate blood pressure in the long term," says preventive cardiologist Luke Laffin, MD, "but they often have an impact on lifestyle factors, which can absolutely contribute to elevations in blood pressure. If we're in a stressful situation, the normal physiologic response is to increase blood pressure. Acute stress can increase your heart rate and rev up your sympathetic nervous system, which, in turn, raises your blood pressure. The body can handle acute changes in blood pressure pretty well. What we're really worried about is chronically elevated blood pressure."

2

Lose Weight

weight loss
weight loss

Losing weight is one of the most effective ways to lower blood sugar, doctors advise. 

"Nearly everyone diagnosed with high blood pressure can make a few lifestyle changes to improve their numbers," says cardiologist Maria Duca, MD. "Simply increasing your exercise level can lower your blood pressure within just a few weeks, and losing 10 pounds can help lower it considerably."

3

Get Moving

Happy young woman measuring her weight at home
Happy young woman measuring her weight at home

Exercise is a great way to lower blood pressure, especially if weight training is incorporated. "Make sure you're doing something you love, or it won't stick," says Naomi Fisher, MD, director of hypertension service and hypertension innovation at the Brigham and Women's Hospital Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension, and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "For some that means dancing; for others, biking or taking brisk walks with a friend. Add some weight lifting to your exercise regimen to help lose weight and stay fit."

4

Limit Alcohol

Sad woman drinking wine at kitchen.
Sad woman drinking wine at kitchen.

Cutting down on alcohol consumption can help lower blood pressure, doctors say. "Monitoring alcohol intake is very important. Alcoholic beverages can contain significant amounts of calories and sugar, which can contribute to increased body fat and weight gain – both of which are factors that can lead to higher blood pressure over time," says Dr. Craft. "Besides the effect on your blood pressure, alcohol can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications."

5

Is My Blood Pressure Too High?

high blood pressure
high blood pressure

"The blood pressure cuff you see at doctors' offices measures how hard blood flows through your body," says Cicily Stanton, MD. "A blood pressure reading is made up of two parts: Your systolic reading measures the pressure in your arteries while your heart beats. A normal systolic number is at or below 120 mm Hg. Your diastolic reading measures the pressure in your arteries in between heartbeats. A normal diastolic number is at or below 80 mm Hg. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher, which means a systolic number of 140 or higher and a diastolic number of 90 or higher. If your blood pressure is elevated but not quite hypertensive, it's still important to take steps to care for your cardiovascular health."