How to reduce blood pressure

How to lower blood pressure?

Pawel Malczewski
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Short summary

There are a number of natural ways to reduce blood pressure. Since these methods also have positive effects on your overall well-being, the best way is to incorporate them all into of your life habits.

Explanation

An normal/optimal blood pressure level should be less than 120/80 mm Hg systolic/diastolic. (read more..) If your blood pressure is higher than what is considered as normal, you should consult your health practitioner first to determine and treat the underlying causes. He/she can also assist you in reducing your blood pressure to a healthy range.

Natural ways to lower blood pressure

  1. Weight reduction
    Being overweight increases the risk of having high blood pressure. Weight loss is especially beneficial for overweight and obese individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. (1)Wing RR, Lang W, Wadden TA, Safford M, Knowler WC, Bertoni AG, et al. Benefits of Modest Weight Loss in Improving Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes. Published online before printMay 18, 2011. Available here. (2)American Heart Association. Understand Your Risk for High Blood Pressure. Available here.

  2. Reduce carbohydrates in your diet.
    One of the largest studies comparing the effect of various diets on weight loss, conducted on overweight pre-menopausal women, has shown that a low carbohydrate diet is the most effective in losing weight and dropping blood pressure. (3)Gardner CD, Kiazand A, Alhassan S, Kim S, Stafford RS, Balise RR, Kraemer HC, et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets for Change in Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal WomenThe A TO Z Weight Loss Study: A Randomized Trial. JAMA. 2007;297(9):969-977. Available here.

  3. Regular exercise.
    Several studies show that endurance, dynamic resistance and isometric resistance exercise lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Combined training lowers only diastolic blood pressure. On the other hand, isometric resistance training presents the best results in lowering systolic blood pressure. (4)Cornelissen VA, Smart NA. Exercise Training for Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta‐analysis. J Am Heart Assoc.2013; 2: e004473. Available here. Aerobic exercise helps to reduce blood pressure and to improve heart muscle function in individuals with elevated pressure. (5)Molmen-Hansen HE, Stolen T, Tjonna AE, Aamot IL, Ekeberg IS, et al. Aerobic interval training reduces blood pressure and improves myocardial function in hypertensive patients. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology April 2012 vol. 19 no. 2151-160. Available here.

  4. Restriction of alcohol.
    Consumption of alcohol causes a rise in blood pressure. (6)Chen L, Smith GD, Harbord RM, Lewis SJ. Alcohol Intake and Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review Implementing a Mendelian Randomization Approach. Plos Medicine. March 4, 2008. Available here.

  5. Reduce salt in your diet.
    Many studies show that the reduction of sodium intake reduces blood pressure, especially in people with hypertension. (7)He FJ, Li J, MacGregor GA. Effect of longer term modest salt reduction on blood pressure: Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials. BMJ 2013; 346. Available here. (8)Geleijnse JM, Kok FJ, Grobbee DE. Blood pressure response to changes in sodium and potassium intake: a metaregression analysis of randomised trials. Journal of Human Hypertension (2003) 17, 471–480. Available here. Please note, however, that the optimum sodium levels and upper intake of sodium are being currently questioned by a number of recent studies. (read more..)
  6. Increase the amount of foods rich in potassium and/or take potassium supplements.
    Potassium, in the form of supplements or derived from the diet, reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension and lowers the risk of stroke by 24%. (9)Kass L, Weekes J, Carpenter L. Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012) 66, 411–418. Available here. Examples of foods high in potassium are: coconut water, cuttlefish, octopus, clams, adzuki beans, halibut, avocado, pork meat, lima beans, snapper and  soybeans. For the full list please click here.

  7. Take magnesium supplements.
    Magnesium supplements have shown small but clinically significant reductions in blood pressure. (10)Aburto NJ, Hanson S, Gutierrez H, Hooper L, Elliott P, Cappuccio FP. Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses. BMJ. 2013 Apr 3;346:f1378. Available here. Please note that, although highly possible, these findings don’t prove that foods rich in magnesium will have the same effect. Examples of foods rich in magnesium are: pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, halibut, mackerel, cashew nuts, amaranth and soybeans. For the full list please click here.

 

References   [ + ]

1. Wing RR, Lang W, Wadden TA, Safford M, Knowler WC, Bertoni AG, et al. Benefits of Modest Weight Loss in Improving Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes. Published online before printMay 18, 2011. Available here.
2. American Heart Association. Understand Your Risk for High Blood Pressure. Available here.
3. Gardner CD, Kiazand A, Alhassan S, Kim S, Stafford RS, Balise RR, Kraemer HC, et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets for Change in Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal WomenThe A TO Z Weight Loss Study: A Randomized Trial. JAMA. 2007;297(9):969-977. Available here.
4. Cornelissen VA, Smart NA. Exercise Training for Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta‐analysis. J Am Heart Assoc.2013; 2: e004473. Available here.
5. Molmen-Hansen HE, Stolen T, Tjonna AE, Aamot IL, Ekeberg IS, et al. Aerobic interval training reduces blood pressure and improves myocardial function in hypertensive patients. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology April 2012 vol. 19 no. 2151-160. Available here.
6. Chen L, Smith GD, Harbord RM, Lewis SJ. Alcohol Intake and Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review Implementing a Mendelian Randomization Approach. Plos Medicine. March 4, 2008. Available here.
7. He FJ, Li J, MacGregor GA. Effect of longer term modest salt reduction on blood pressure: Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials. BMJ 2013; 346. Available here.
8. Geleijnse JM, Kok FJ, Grobbee DE. Blood pressure response to changes in sodium and potassium intake: a metaregression analysis of randomised trials. Journal of Human Hypertension (2003) 17, 471–480. Available here.
9. Kass L, Weekes J, Carpenter L. Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012) 66, 411–418. Available here.
10. Aburto NJ, Hanson S, Gutierrez H, Hooper L, Elliott P, Cappuccio FP. Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses. BMJ. 2013 Apr 3;346:f1378. Available here.

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