High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the world. A normal reading is below 120/80 mm Hg. Readings of more than 130/80 mm Hg are generally considered high. Every one out of four males and one out of five females has hypertension, and it is associated with 13% of all deaths worldwide. Hypertension is referred to as the “silent killer” because it is mostly asymptomatic until the damage has become severe and organ threatening. It increases the stress in the arteries and the heart, making it difficult to push blood to essential organs thereby, increasing the risk for cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and renal disorders.
The primary causes of raised blood pressure are still not known. However, some identified secondary etiologies such as diseases of the renal, endocrine, and nervous systems. Obesity, diabetes, raised cholesterol, high salt intake, alcohol, cigarette smoking, sedentary lifestyle, stress, etc., are also the leading contributory factors for hypertension. Although the control of hypertension can be successfully achieved by medication, the ultimate goal is to reduce the risk of onset. The following are some evidence-based strategies to lower blood pressure to biological normality.
6 Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure
1. Healthy diet and nutrition
Dietary changes are of utmost importance for controlling high blood pressure. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Reduce Hypertension) is recommended for controlling high blood pressure. It includes restriction of the salt intake to an average of not more than 5g a day, consumption of a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products with a decreased content of saturated fats and total fat. Also, intake of alcohol should be reduced along with a complete cessation of smoking. Adoption of the DASH diet strategy can help reduce the upper limit of blood pressure by 8 to 14mm of Hg, salt restriction reduces it by 2 to 8 mm Hg, and alcohol consumption decreases it by an average of 2 to 4 mm Hg.
2. Weight reduction
The prevention and control of overweight or obesity is a prudent way of reducing the risk of hypertension and its threatening complications. It should be in synchrony with the intake of a proper diet. For weight reduction, we can calculate our Body Mass Index (BMI) by dividing our weight (kg) by our height in meters squared. The average BMI should fall between 18.5 to 24.99 kg/m2. Maintenance of normal BMI can reduce average blood pressure by 8 to 20 mm Hg per 10 kg weight loss. Hence, weight reduction can help us maintain normal levels and decreases the risk of many cardiovascular and renal diseases as well.
3. Regular activity and exercise
Regular physical exercise with about 30 minutes a day for most days of the week can help decrease body weight, blood lipids, and blood pressure. Evidence shows that regular aerobic exercise such as brisk walking for at least 30 minutes a day can help reduce readings by 4 to 9 mm Hg. So, despite our busy schedule, it is beneficial to do mild jogging or a morning walk regularly.
4. Behavioral changes
Type A personality who is more ambitious, anxious, and impatient are among the high-risk groups for hypertension. Regular meditation or yoga practice, or other stress-reduction exercises are recommended to such personality types. Also, cessation of smoking, modification of personal lifestyle involving more activity are profitable to reduce blood pressure.
Everyone should be motivated to take care of their health on their own. One should take his blood pressure regularly and keep a logbook of his readings. Tracking is vital for those who have a family history of hypertension. Those who have sustained high blood pressure in childhood are prone to have it high in the latter part of his life. So, keeping a regular record helps to identify and prevent the risk factors earlier.
6. Regular check-ups
If you have high blood pressure or any associated symptoms such as headache, blurring of vision, fatigue, or have a family history of hypertension, it is essential to have a regular check-up done. The doctor may advise for minor dietary modification or may introduce you to blood pressure-lowering medications. It is necessary to strictly adhere to the prescription and have regular follow-ups to ensure your blood pressure stays on track and no complication ensues.
The primary cause of high blood pressure is still idiopathic, so the best thing we can do is to bring the blood pressure to acceptable levels. One should aim to keep levels below 140/90 mm Hg and ideally at 120/80 mm Hg. It is thus imperative to keep our blood pressure within normal limits for enjoying a healthy life without disease or deformity.