Hypertension commonly known as high blood pressure is a common but serious condition that is called a silent killer as there are no noticeable symptoms. Left untreated it can lead to serious issues like heart attack, stroke, and even death. So it is essential to get a regular check-up and determine if you have hypertension. The good news is that if you have it there is no need to panic as it can be managed naturally by making certain lifestyle changes.
What is Hypertension?
The heart pumps blood and the blood pressure depends on the resistance to the blood flow of the pumping heart to the arteries. When the arteries are narrow, the blood pressure will be high. Blood pressure is measured in mm Hg or millimetres of mercury and it is indicated by:
- Systolic blood pressure: It is the measure of the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart is beating.
- Diastolic blood pressure: It is the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart is resting between beats.
Normal blood pressure should be lower than 120/80 mm Hg. If the pressure is more than 120/80 but less than 130/80 mm Hg then it called elevated blood pressure. If it is more than 130/80 mm Hg then it is called high blood pressure or hypertension.
Many people who have hypertension do not know it until it becomes too high. Some of the signs of Hypertension blood pressure include:
• Nose bleeds
• Chest pain
• Irregular heartbeat
• Eye problems
• Breathing difficulties
• Pounding in the chest, eyes, neck, or ears
• Bloody urine
Natural ways to Reduce Hypertension
There are many things that can be done to lower the blood pressure naturally and that too without medications are:
1. Lose weight
One of the foremost causes of hypertension is excessive weight gain. So the first thing to do when you have hypertension is to reduce weight if you fall into the overweight or obese category. The reason being excess weight can lead to breathing problems and that increases blood pressure. Start by losing small amounts of weight and see the changes in your hypertension measurements. Every kg of weight that you reduce will help reduce your BP by 1 mm Hg. Another aspect to consider apart from weight loss is carrying too much weight around the waist. In general, men who have a waist measurement of more than 40 inches and women with more than 35 inches are at a higher risk of hypertension.
2. Make Dietary Changes
Reduce salt intake:
The foods that you consume have a major impact on your body. When you have a diet that includes excess salt it can lead to hypertension symptoms. Sodium is included in many processed foods and hence it is best to avoid them. A low sodium diet is studied to have the same impact as taking medications. It is recommended that an average individual should not consume more than 2,300 mg for those who have hypertension that limit is 1,500 mg. Limiting it can drop the blood pressure by 5 or 6 mm Hg. To decrease sodium:
- Consume less processed foods
- Use spices or herbs to add flavour instead of salt. 1 tsp of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium.
- Eat more home-cooked foods
- Check food labels so that you can choose low sodium alternatives.
- Gradually decrease the intake so that you can adjust to it without jumping back to a high sodium diet.
Reduce carbs and sugar:
Restricting consumption of refined carbs and sugar can lower blood pressure and also aid in weight loss. Low carb and low-fat diets are proven to be effective in controlling blood pressure by 4.5 mm Hg diastolic and 5.9 mm Hg systolic. When you consume low carb, high-protein diet you feel full longer and have fewer binging episodes.
Increase Potassium Intake:
Potassium is an essential mineral in the body that helps in the reduction of sodium content in the body. It is also useful in reducing the pressure on the heart blood vessels and in reducing pulmonary hypertension symptoms. Due to the excess consumption of processed foods, fast foods, etc. which are rich in sodium and low in potassium, people are more likely to suffer from hypertension. To bring about a balance add more potassium to your diet. Foods rich in potassium are:
- Green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and potatoes
- Fruits like apricots, oranges, avocados, bananas, and melons
- Seafood like tuna and salmon
- Milk and yoghurt among dairy products
- Seeds and nuts
- Beans and whole grains
Follow the DASH diet:
DASH, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet is created specifically for people with hypertension and want to reduce it naturally. It is also being considered as one of the ways to reduce hypertension symptoms including pulmonary hypertension without any medications. The diet lays great emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and low-fat dairy. It meets the requirements of high potassium and low-sodium which eventually helps to lose weight too apart from reducing blood pressure. The DASH diet can reduce systolic pressure by up to 11 mm Hg.
Use Medicinal Herbs:
Traditional ayurvedic medicines have been used to treat many ailments including hypertension symptoms and even essential hypertension. Some of the herbs are Amla, Ashwagandha, Garlic, Honey and powder of cinnamon and coriander.
3. Lifestyle Changes
The most common hypertension treatment recommended even by doctors is lifestyle changes like:
Any type of physical activity can be effective in reducing blood pressure. Aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, or joggings help in making the blood vessels more flexible, increasing blood flow, and creating new blood vessels. Yoga is also a good way to reduce all types of hypertension including essential hypertension.
It is recommended that alcohol is had in moderation as that can help in reducing blood pressure including pulmonary hypertension. Many people consume this as a stress buster and take more than the optimal quantity which raises blood pressure. Instead of this, stress reduction meditation can be adopted if alcohol is a stress buster for you. Social drinking should be done in moderation.
Stress is one of the primary causes of hypertension. When you are under stress the body is in fight or flight mode and that results in high blood pressure. Stress can also lead to eating unhealthy food, smoking, and drinking alcohol. Thus it is important to learn to manage stress by doing yoga for stress reduction or short meditation exercises. Calming music is also one of the effective ways to reduce blood pressure.
Lack of quality sleep raises blood pressure, so people who are sleep deprived for various reasons including insomnia are at a greater risk of hypertension. But for some people getting a good nights sleep is not easy but following a sleep schedule, exercise, relaxing before sleep, and having a good bedroom environment can aid in quality sleep.
Smoking puts your heart at great risk as it can lead to heart diseases. Every cigarette that you smoke can lead to a slight increase in blood pressure. Additionally, the chemicals in it can lead to blood vessel damage so it is best to quit smoking. Hypertension is a common ailment among a large number of people across the world. While hypertension treatment through medication is a way to treat the condition, there are many natural ways to manage it. Following a healthy diet and lifestyle can not only reduce hypertension but also its related complications.
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