You’ve been told your blood pressure is too high. That means your blood pressure is above 140/90 mm Hg and may need medications to lower it. Not so fast - treatment of high blood pressure should involve non-pharmacologic therapy, aka, lifestyle modification. Here is what may REALLY work to lower your blood pressure.
1. Salt. Restricting salt in your diet has been shown to reduce blood pressure by about 5 mm Hg (so, for example from 140/90 to perhaps 135/85.) The proven ability of sodium reduction to lower blood pressure makes this a no-brainer.
2. Weight loss. Weight loss in obese individuals can lead to a significant fall in blood pressure. The weight loss-induced drop in blood pressure generally ranges from 0.5 to 2 mmHg for every 1 kg of weight lost.
3. Dashing. The DASH diet consists of increased intake of fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products and can be combined with salt restriction. The DASH diet has proven effective in lowering blood pressure.
4. Move it. Exercise lowers blood pressure. 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise will lower your blood pressure an average of 5 to 9 mmHg. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort, and less force on the vessels.
5. Limit alcohol. This is tricky because alcohol, in moderation, protects you from stroke and heart disease, but can also contribute to higher blood pressures. Women who consume two or more alcoholic beverages per day and men who have three or more drinks per day have a significantly increased incidence of high blood pressure compared to nondrinkers. Decreasing alcohol intake significantly lowers blood pressure
6. Vitamin D. This is new info: in folks with low or low normal Vitamin D levels, Vitamin D supplements may help lower blood pressure.
7. Peer pressure. This is a cool fact. Blood pressure control may be improved when patients with high blood pressure hear the personal stories of their peers with high blood pressure. Go figure.
8. Random. Other therapies that may be beneficial in lowering blood pressure are adequate potassium intake, quitting smoking, and limiting the use of NSAIDS and acetaminophen.
- Dr. O
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