5 tips to lower blood pressure naturally
Before David Hampshere, 55, started taking blood pressure medication, his numbers shot up to 150/100 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). For comparison, normal blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mm Hg, according to the American Heart Association.
But when Hampshere, a Florida-based real estate investor, lost 80 pounds over a nine-month period, his blood pressure returned to normal. With the extra weight gone – and a daily game of pickleball to keep it off – the Hampshere doctor let him experiment with stopping his blood pressure medication. And at Hampshere’s next checkup, her doctor agreed the drug was no longer needed.
More than 100 million Americans – nearly half of American adults – have high blood pressure (also called hypertension), which is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. And while many take medication to lower their blood pressure, some 30 million Americans out of that grand total suffer from what’s called stage 1 hypertension, for which antihypertensive drugs aren’t always recommended. (Stage 1 is when the systolic, or higher, number on a blood pressure reading is between 130 and 139 mm Hg and the diastolic, or lower, number is between 80 and 89 mm Hg.)
Still, if left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and kidney disease, especially in men and people of color, says Kendra Sims, an epidemiologist at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine.
Lifestyle adjustments like losing weight, reducing your salt intake, exercising, limiting alcohol and reducing stress are all effective ways to fight high blood pressure, according to research.
Here are a few other unexpected strategies, though it’s important to note that if you’re on blood pressure medication, you should never stop taking it without consulting your doctor.
1. Train your breathing muscles
According to a new study from the University of Colorado at Boulder, high-intensity breathing using a device that creates resistance when you inhale caused blood pressure to drop over time.
“We found that 30 resistant inspirations per day, five to seven days per week for six weeks, lowered systolic blood pressure by 9 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 4 mm Hg,” the co-author explained. study Daniel Craighead, an assistant research professor in the university’s Integrative Physiology of Aging Laboratory.
The effect is comparable to that of aerobic exercise, such as walking or running, although you will want to continue your regular workouts for other health benefits. And this breathing training can lower blood pressure as effectively as blood pressure medication, the researchers noted.
“If this is sustained over the long term, it is enough to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 25%,” says Craighead.
High-intensity breathing appears to work by promoting the production of nitric oxide, a heart-beneficial compound, in the cells that line the walls of blood vessels, says Craighead. Regular breathing exercises help dilate blood vessels, improving blood circulation.
Study participants used a device called PowerBreathe, but there are similar devices on the market to improve the shape of your diaphragm and other breathing muscles — and possibly lower your blood pressure.
2. Take 8,200 steps a day
You may have heard that you need to take 10,000 steps a day to be healthy, but it seems 8,200 is the magic number, according to new research from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. The study, which included more than 6,000 people with a median age of 57, used electronic health records as well as data from their Fitbit devices to reach this conclusion.