Nearly half of adults in the United States have hypertension or high blood pressure. This is why taking control of your health through everyday choices is so important. As February marks American Heart Month, learn more about how to reduce high blood pressure naturally. With these healthy lifestyle changes, you can make a difference in your quality of life and help reduce your chances of illness. In this blog,
we will discuss simple tweaks, everything from exercises to infrared sauna use. You may be surprised to learn that these easy changes can last you a lifetime!
American Heart Month
February is a time for people across the country and beyond to come together to create awareness about cardiovascular disease prevention. American Heart Month is a necessary time to shine a light on heart health as hypertension is one of the risk factors for stroke and heart disease, both being two of the leading causes of death in the country. Understanding risk factors for heart disease can help us live a more heart-healthy life.
There is a lot of work to be done across all age groups, not just among older adults. Taking steps to prevent high blood pressure can be done at any age to help keep up with heart health and reduce the chances of heart disease down the road.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Before learning about the causes of high blood pressure, you may be wondering what blood pressure is. Blood pressure is the pressure with which circulating blood pushes against the walls of your blood vessels. It is normal for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day based on your physical activities.
High blood pressure is when the level of pressure is consistently higher than normal. A normal blood pressure is considered 120/80, while elevated levels are when your systolic blood pressure is between 120-129 and your diastolic pressure is less than 80. High blood pressure can increase your risk for other health conditions, especially those related to the heart.
High blood pressure can be caused by many different factors and usually develops over time. Unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking and lack of physical activity can exacerbate the condition. Other health issues such as obesity and diabetes can also impact your blood pressure. Pregnant women can experience high blood pressure postpartum too.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
Myth: Nervousness, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, sweating, headaches, and facial flushing are symptoms of high blood pressure.
FACT: High blood pressure is a “silent killer” and largely has no symptoms.
If you are looking for a list of high blood pressure symptoms, you won’t find it here (or anywhere for that matter), as high blood pressure usually has no warning signs or symptoms. Most people with high blood pressure, even those receiving dangerously high blood pressure readings, are symptomless. Many can have high blood pressure for years without any symptoms. Regularly monitoring your blood pressure is the only way to know for certain if you have high blood pressure. With the support of your healthcare team, you can take steps to control your blood pressure if it measures too high.
You can measure your blood pressure:
- At your primary care doctor’s office.
- At most pharmacies.
- At home by purchasing a home blood pressure monitor.
How to Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally
According to the CDC, nearly 116 million adults in the United States take medication for hypertension, which can become incredibly costly. Country-wide high blood pressure costs amount to $131 billion each year, but there are natural ways to improve your health daily and reduce your chances of having hypertension.
By managing or preventing health conditions you may already have and by making healthy choices, you can help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. While you should always speak to your doctor to find the best health options for you, below are some examples of natural lifestyle changes that may help lower blood pressure.
Keep a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese can exponentially increase your risk for health issues, including high blood pressure. Work with your healthcare provider to come up with a plan to lose or maintain a healthy weight, which may include practices such as exercise, diet, sleep, hormone balancing, or other lifestyle changes.
Live a Physically Active Life
Physical activity is one of the best lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health because it can help you maintain a healthy weight AND lower your blood pressure. Getting regular moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week for at least 30 minutes is recommended for all adults.
Maintain a Healthy, Balanced Diet
A great way to avoid high blood pressure and its complications is through your diet. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a flexible and heart-conscious dietary plan that has been a proven record of helping people lower their blood pressure. The diet includes:
- Eating fruits and vegetables
- Limiting foods with saturated fats and including more fat-free or low-fat options
- Limiting sweets
- Reducing sodium/salt intake
Talk to your doctor about what dietary changes you can take to take control of your blood pressure.
Smoking is proven to raise your blood pressure and put you at risk for stroke or heart attack. Quitting smoking is a great way to care for your overall health. Speak to your physician about ways they can support you during this journey. If you do not smoke, do not start, as once you do it is harder to quit.
Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Drinking alcohol is also proven to raise blood pressure. Limiting your consumption, or not drinking alcohol at all, will help you live a healthy life. If you do drink, the CDC recommends men should not have more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day, and women should not exceed 1 drink per day.
Use an Infrared Sauna
You may be wondering, how is an infrared sauna good for high blood pressure? Recent studies have shown that consistent infrared sauna use may help reduce blood pressure levels and help decrease risk factors for cardiovascular disease by strengthening the cardiovascular system, improving blood circulation, increasing resting heart rate, reducing both physical and mental stress, and helping maintain a healthy weight.
Chromotherapy, or color light therapy, can be a helpful tool in reducing stress, which in turn can help reduce blood pressure. Many infrared saunas come equipped with chromotherapy lights, which allow you to feel the heart health benefits of infrared heat on top of the calming effects of certain colors. Blue, purple, and green have been known to help reduce stress and improve mood.
Manage Other Health Conditions
When looking to reduce your risk for high blood pressure, managing other health conditions you may already have should be one of the first steps. Controlling pre-existing health issues, such as diabetes, can help you focus on other areas of your health.
People with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure to a healthy range by making a few simple lifestyle changes. Understanding what positive lifestyle changes you can make can keep you away from the risk of more serious heart issues such as heart disease and stroke. Speak with your doctor for the best course of action for your health, and with a few daily choice changes, you can take control of your health for a lifetime.