Dear Reader you may have visited a healthcare centre and been told that you need to lower blood pressure. You accepted the advice and have been trying to reduce your blood pressure, without success. This two article discussion will explore with you, how to lower blood pressure successfully.
You may not be aware of certain things you can do to lower blood pressure. These two articles will help you with exactly that – how to treat high blood pressure holistically. The reason is because there is really no single “good way to lower blood pressure.”
The treatment of high blood pressure is best done through a multifaceted, stepwise approach. In this first article, we will look at the non-pharmacological management (without medication). And sometimes in the stepwise approach, especially in mild hypertension, these interventions are all that is needed to control blood pressure.
In the second article, we will deal with pharmacological treatment, where medications are used to lower blood pressure. This is usually the next addition in the stepwise approach. It is an addition (not an alternative), because it needs to go along with the non-pharmacological methods, for best results.
There are two aspects or arms of blood pressure treatment which are not pharmacological. But because they have a direct bearing on the mode of action of high blood pressure medications, and because they are involved with oral intakes, we will deal with them in the next article too. These are salt restriction and potassium intake or supplementation.
Before we go deeper into our discussion of non-drug treatment of high blood pressure, let us present items that will help you at home. These online items are aids for your journey of achieving ideal or normal blood pressure, as set out by your healthcare provider.
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WEIGHT LOSS AND BLOOD PRESSURE
Can weight loss lower blood pressure? That is a very good question. There is a clear, well documented association between being overweight or obese, and high blood pressure.
An abnormal (high) body weight puts demands on the cardiovascular system. The heart has to pump very hard, at high pressure, to get sufficient blood to all parts of this huge body. This is what causes a high circulating blood pressure, as measured in the blood vessels.
Also, overweight and obesity is associated with sodium and fluid overload. Having too much fluid in the body, especially inside the blood vessels, is synonymous with high blood pressure. This excessive sodium and fluid needs to be gotten rid of.
When the abnormally high body weight is reversed, even modestly, the stress on the heart is released. The blood pressure begins to drop. So yes, losing weight lowers blood pressure.
What this means actually, is that to PREVENT having hypertension in the first place, we should avoid weight gain. We should strive for an ideal body weight as determined by our Body Mass Index (BMI). The quality scale as linked above, helps in monitoring weight for BMI maintenance, or during a weight loss program.
Kindly see the articles on this website as referenced at the bottom, for a detailed discussion on weight loss. We need to lose weight to achieve cardiovascular health including normal blood pressure. We need to lose weight to reduce our chances of catastrophic events like strokes, or even premature death.
Kindly also visit this secure website for food that helps lower blood pressure.
EXERCISE AND BLOOD PRESSURE
Exercise is another very important arm of the non-pharmacological (non-drug) management of high blood pressure.
But hang on – can exercise lower blood pressure? If so, HOW does exercise lower blood pressure? Should I really press on with exercise?
Yes indeed, exercise lowers blood pressure, by a variety of mechanisms. Firstly, as discussed in the below weight loss articles, exercise is very effective in helping with weight loss. This then helps lower blood pressure as discussed above.
Secondly, exercise helps maintain health, vitality and elasticity of tissues throughout the body. Among these tissues, are the blood vessel walls. By keeping blood vessels stretchable and accommodative of blood flow, exercise lowers blood pressure.
Thirdly, exercise excretes sodium chloride (salt) through the kidneys (urine) and sweat. (But please note that it has to be significant sweat.) And by excreting sodium and water, exercise lowers blood pressure.
As mentioned above, the sodium in salt is a very important determinant of blood pressure – the higher it is, the higher the blood pressure. This is most important in people of African descent, wherever they are. They have a deficiency of what is called the sodium-potassium pump.
Fourthly but not lastly, exercise stimulates endorphins or “happy hormones”. These happy hormones relax our minds and blood vessels, and counter stress hormones. These effects lower blood pressure.
Kindly visit this secure website for the best exercises for blood pressure.
(For completeness, does exercise increase blood pressure? The honest answer is yes. But that happens temporarily, while one is exercising.
It is therefore important to visit a Doctor or any suitable Health professional before embarking on an exercise program. Blood pressure is one of the vital measurements to be done. And if too high, it has to be treated before safe exercise can be undertaken.
People above age 60 have to be particularly strict about initial and follow-up medical visits.
So, the answer to the question, “is exercise good for blood pressure?” is a big YES. The positive effects of lowering blood pressure are too numerous and sustained. Thus, they outweigh the temporary elevation that occurs during exercise, which can in any case be minimised by professional monitoring.)
MANAGEMENT OF STRESS AND ANXIETY
Stress and anxiety are big problems worldwide. They are very prevalent and are damaging to the body.
The cardiovascular system is one of the body systems worst hit by stress and anxiety. These conditions cause high circulating levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Through this and other mechanisms, stress and anxiety increase blood pressure, among a host of cardiovascular bad effects.
In the two decade experience of the author in four continents, stress and anxiety are one of the main reasons why a lot of people on regular treatment, have uncontrolled hypertension. And sadly, these conditions are unrecognised as such, and unreported by patients.
Management of stress and anxiety is critical for the prevention or treatment of raised blood pressure. It is actually the first issue to be addressed when someone is found for the first time to have high blood pressure. There should never be a rush to label the client as having hypertension.
And even for a patient with a firmly established diagnosis of hypertension, management of stress and anxiety helps to lower high blood pressure. This management can be achieved via:
- Counseling or psychotherapy
- Family therapy
- Crisis intervention
- Stress management exercises such as deep breathing exercises, yoga
- Anger management classes
- Music and
- other relaxation techniques
- Short-term (few days’) medication such as minor tranquilizers e.g. diazepam
- Long-term (weeks – months) medication such as antidepressants cannot or should not be shied away from if the psychological problems are immense
Kindly see this stress management article for stress management techniques. Although written for Online Entrepreneurs, it will teach anyone on what ways to manage stress.
DOES DRINKING ALCOHOL RAISE BLOOD PRESSURE?
We have said above that relaxation helps to keep a healthy blood pressure. Many people use alcohol exactly as a way of releasing stress and tension. But does alcohol raise blood pressure?
YES indeed, alcohol raises blood pressure. This applies especially when it is taken in excess (alcohol abuse). People with hypertension, especially poorly controlled hypertension, have to cut down on alcohol consumption.
Kindly visit this reputable website for more information on how alcohol affects blood pressure.
Apart from raising blood pressure, alcohol also has a direct harmful effect on the heart muscles. Alcohol is a cardiotoxin. It causes bad heart failure.
Anyone who wishes to quit drinking alcohol, can contact organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). These organisations have tremendous knowledge and experience on how to quit alcohol.
OVERALL HEALTH & WELLNESS
As can be seen from the above discussion, controlling high blood pressure needs a look at more than just the blood pressure or “BP”. Attention has to be paid to the overall health and wellness. The management has to be holistic, in order to get the best results.
Your Healthcare professional will do a thorough assessment at the beginning, and as your blood pressure treatment unfolds. They will do directed blood tests and radiological examinations to ensure that you don’t have underlying conditions causing your high blood pressure, or making its treatment difficult. A classic example of such underlying cause is kidney disease such as polycystic kidneys (below).
Another often unattended area which clouds and makes high blood pressure management difficult, is PAIN. Pain raises blood pressure, especially the systolic blood pressure (the number above the line in the BP record). Pain is another possibility that must always be considered when someone presents with a raised BP, especially an isolated rise in the top number.
Please inform your carer about the presence of pain during your high blood pressure visits (checkups). And please have pain, especially chronic pain, adequately controlled by using your treatment well and faithfully.
Dear Reader you may be one of the millions who surf the internet for “how to lower blood pressure naturally” or “how to lower blood pressure without medication”. While this article may be sufficient for that purpose, it needs to be mentioned that sometimes, these methods alone don’t work, simply because the hypertension is resistant. In that case, medication is necessary and is strongly advised.
Therefore, in the next article we will do a thorough discussion of the drug treatment of high blood pressure / hypertension.
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