How To Reduce High Blood Pressure Naturally | How To Prevent High Blood Pressure Naturally
High Blood Pressure
Description & Prevention
Doctors aren't sure what causes blood pressure to rise above the healthy upper limit of 140/90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). Diseases affecting the kidneys, adrenal glands, or other glands can occasionally raise blood pressure, a condition that doctors call secondary high blood pressure, says Lois Anne Katz, MD, professor of clinical medicine at New York University School of Medicine. But 19 times out of 20, high blood pressure happens for no apparent reason, she adds. The kidney plays a major role in blood pressure regulation. "It's possible that sometime in the future we might find a gene that affects the kidney and causes high blood pressure," she says.
All we really know for sure is that those who are overweight, have diabetes, or are African-American carry the greatest risk of getting high blood pressure, Dr. Katz says. Women who take birth control pills also have a slightly increased risk, although no one is quite sure why. "High blood pressure is very common among women," adds Dr. Katz. According to the American Heart Association, if you're between 35 and 55, chances are about one in four that you have it, while nearly half of women over 55 have it.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke. But for most women, elevated blood pressure can be controlled at home before it has a chance to do any harm, says Dr. Katz. Losing weight, exercising, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables are your best bets for bypassing high blood pressure. [pagebreak]
In some cases, doctors prefer that people lower blood pressure naturally by trying nondrug strategies first, says Dr. Katz. And here's what they suggest.
Drop extra pounds."People who lose a considerable amount of weight, say 20 or 30 pounds, can sometimes bring their blood pressure down," says Dr. Katz. Losing excess weight may actually cause a chemical change in the body that alters metabolism, she says. It decreases the amount of insulin you produce, which can sometimes be a factor in triggering high blood pressure.
Eat fruit, beans, and potatoes.Loading up on potassium-rich fruits and vegetables is an important part of any blood pressure-lowering program, says Linda Van Horn, RD, PhD, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago. Aim for potassium levels of 2,000 to 4,000 mg a day, she says. Top sources of potassium are orange juice, potatoes, bananas, beans, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and dried fruits such as prunes and raisins.
Work that body.Aerobic exercise--activities that use your major muscles and raise your heart rate, like biking, running, and swimming--also seems to bring down blood pressure, perhaps by keeping your blood vessels more flexible, says Linda L. Colle Gerrond, MD, director of the Center for Women's Health at the Shawnee Mission Medical Center near Kansas City, Kansas. Regular exercise also burns fat and calories, making it easier to lose or maintain weight.
To help control your blood pressure, Dr. Gerrond recommends 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week as long as your physician says that you're ready.
Use salt judiciously.For most people, eating salt does not increase the risk of high blood pressure, says Dr. Katz. But for some reason, it may affect a few. So if you have high blood pressure, it doesn't hurt to use salt judiciously. Don't add it to foods at the table, and limit very salty foods like chips to a once-in-a-while indulgence.
Take calcium supplements.Although not all doctors agree, some research suggests that calcium is an important nutrient in keeping blood pressure levels healthy in at least some women, says Dr. Gerrond. Experts say that women should be sure to get the optimum daily intake for calcium, which is:
- 1,000 mg a day if you're under 50 or on hormone replacement therapy
- 1,200 to 1,500 mg a day if you're pregnant or nursing
- 1,500 mg a day if you're postmenopausal and not taking estrogen, or if you're over 65
Trash tobacco.For those just starting, the powerful chemicals in inhaled cigarette smoke prompt blood vessel walls to constrict temporarily, increasing pressure on blood coursing through the arteries, says Dr. Katz. In addition, smoking greatly increases your risk for stroke, often blamed on high blood pressure.
Keep alcohol consumption down.Drinking alcohol in excess tends to raise blood pressure, so doctors advise moderation or abstinence. If you enjoy drinking, Dr. Katz suggests limiting yourself to two glasses of wine or bottles of beer a day at the most. And if you don't drink, don't start.[pagebreak]
When to See a Doctor
It's good to have your blood pressure checked once a year, and you should definitely have it checked if you become pregnant. During pregnancy, a small but significant increase in blood pressure could be a sign of pre-eclampsia.
Video: High Blood Pressure | Hypertension | Nucleus Health
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