Hypertension, often called the silent killer, happens when a person’s blood pressure is over 140/90. Hypertension strains the heart, the blood vessels, kidneys as well as other organs. This person is at increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and stroke. Most adults are on medication for elevated blood pressure. Here are a few suggestions to help manage your blood pressure so that you might be able to reduce your medication or dispense with it entirely.
1. Lose Weight. For those of you who are at your target weight, ignore this section. Everyone else will be delighted to know that losing just 10% of your existing body weight can lower your blood pressure enough to require an adjustment in your medication. Losing 20% yields even greater benefits.
2. Breathe. Right, I know, we all breathe. But do we all breathe properly? The fact is, we don’t. Because of our constantly elevated stress levels and the need to constantly be on high alert, we breathe rapidly and with only our upper lungs. Rarely do we breathe deeply enough to expand our diaphragm and really stretch out our lower lungs. When we take deep, slow, controlled breaths, there is a reduction in the stress hormones that trigger renin production in our liver. Renin is an enzyme that rises our blood pressure. By regularly practicing deep breathing, we can naturally lower our blood pressure. Not only do we get the benefit of a lower blood pressure, we achieve an overall calming effect. Practicing yoga breathing techniques, called pranayama, can yield remarkable results in terms of stress reduction and reduced blood pressure.
3. Sunlight. Spending time in the sun produces nitric oxide which relaxes our blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely. This reduces blood pressure and can eventually lower one’s risk of a heart attack. Exercise caution, however, when the temperatures are extremely high as this can raise your blood pressure.
4. Walking the dog. Spending time with a pet and taking walks together has been proven to reduce blood pressure and feelings of stress. Just 30 minutes of physical activity a day provides the necessary effect. Whenever possible, try to walk in nature, away from cars, buildings, and traffic whenever possible. The blood pressure reduction benefit is especially good when walking near a body of water like a lake, river, or ocean.
5. Music soothes. Many people have used music to manage their emotions, so it comes as no surprise that listening to music can lower blood pressure as well. The Netherland Heart journal published a study that reported lowered blood pressure in people who regularly played an instrument or listened to music.
Try one or all of these natural blood pressure lowering techniques to improve your health and reduce your dependence on medication to keep you healthy.