High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can lead to heart attack and stroke if left untreated. Luckily keeping blood pressure within a healthy range can be managed with just a few lifestyle changes. "In general, the lower your blood pressure is, the better off you are," says cardiologist Dr. Leslie Cho. Here are five ways to lower blood pressure, fast. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Meditation is a highly effective method of stress relief and can help lower blood pressure. "Adding Transcendental Medication is about equivalent to adding a second antihypertension agent to one's current regimen only safer and less troublesome," says Dr. James W. Anderson, professor of medicine at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
Try a (Mostly) Plant-Based Diet
Research shows that plant-based diets can lower blood pressure, even with small amounts of dairy and meat. "A blood pressure reduction of the scale caused by a higher consumption of plant-based diets, even with limited animal products would result in a 14% reduction in strokes, a 9% reduction in heart attacks and a 7% reduction in overall mortality," says Joshua Gibbs, from the University of Warwick School of Life Sciences. "This is a significant finding as it highlights that complete eradication of animal products is not necessary to produce reductions and improvements in blood pressure. Essentially, any shift towards a plant-based diet is a good one."
Regular workouts are great for heart health and lowering blood pressure. "You have to be mindful of your breathing," says clinical exercise physiologist Laura Gray, ACSM-CEP, MS. "Focusing on breath control will help eliminate a significant elevation in blood pressure. By warming up and cooling down, you can also avoid a drastic change in blood pressure. It allows your body to acclimate to exercise by allowing a gradual increase in heart rate and breathing at the start of the activity. And as soon as you stop exercising, if you don't cool down, it can lead to lower blood pressure. Your heart is still beating faster and your blood vessels are dilated, and this can lead to venous pooling in your legs. So it's important to cool down to prevent hypotension."
Prioritize Good Sleep
Studies show a link between daytime napping and high blood pressure. "This may be because, although taking a nap itself is not harmful, many people who take naps may do so because of poor sleep at night. Poor sleep at night is associated with poorer health, and naps are not enough to make up for that," says sleep expert Michael A. Grandner, PhD, co-author of the American Heart Association's new Life's Essential 8 cardiovascular health score. "This study echoes other findings that generally show that taking more naps seems to reflect increased risk for problems with heart health and other issues."
Lower blood pressure is just one of the many, many health benefits of quitting tobacco. "The nicotine in cigarettes can increase your blood pressure, raising your risk of heart attack or stroke," says Thiviyanath Sellathurai, MD. "But 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your blood pressure starts to normalize. The thought of quitting smoking can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Before you quit, make a plan. Contrary to popular belief, studies have found that quitting cold turkey is not the most effective route. Instead, go slowly. Start by talking to your doctor. They can point you in the direction of free resources and help you build a plan to stop smoking for good."