7 Easy Tricks To Lower Blood Pressure
Safely Control Your Blood Pressure Without Dangerous Drugs
The American Heart Association calls high blood pressure “the silent killer” for good reason. As a leading cause of death worldwide from stroke and heart disease, high blood pressure (HBP) has few signs or symptoms—and it’s a killer on the rise.
According to the American Heart Association, there was a 39% increase in HBP-related deaths in America between 2001 and 2011 despite medical advances in preventing and treating heart disease and stroke. And the death toll is only expected to rise. By 2030, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts 40% of Americans will have HBP.
The good news: You don't have to become a statistic.
Here are 7 easy tricks you can do today to help lower your blood pressure and keep it under control without dangerous blood-pressure drugs.
IMPORTANT MEDICAL NOTE: If you’re currently taking prescription blood-pressure drugs—or even thinking about taking them—make sure you read Tip #7. The information just might save you from serious injury.
Lose Weight to Lower Blood Pressure
As a general rule, your blood pressure rises as your weight increases, meaning losing weight is a great lifestyle change for controlling high blood pressure.
And you don’t need to run a marathon and drop 50 pounds overnight to see results.
Losing even a few pounds can significantly lower blood pressure.
In eight separate studies, 2,100 people ages 45-66 lowered their blood pressure by losing an average of only 9 pounds over 6 to 36 months.
The formula for lifestyle weight loss really hasn’t changed much over the years.
1 pound = 3,500 calories
To lose 1 pound a week, you need to cut your daily eating by 500 calories or burn off 500 calories a day through exercise (or use a combination of the two).
To put this in perspective:
- A 160-pound person walking 3.5 mph on a treadmill can burn 500 calories in about 2 hours, while jogging 5 mph can burn 500 calories in about 50 minutes.
- You can destroy all that hard work in seconds by eating two slices of pepperoni pizza (400 calories), two pieces of KFC fried chicken (484 calories) or one large order of McDonald’s fries (560 calories).
The temptation of convenience foods isn’t the only threat to weight loss. Many so-called “low-calorie” foods are packed with sugars, which quickly turn into fat.
As a healthier addition to regular daily exercise, try low-calorie, non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, eggplant, beets, turnips and peppers. For low-calorie proteins, try fat-free cuts of oven-roasted chicken, tuna or cottage cheese.
If you can’t exercise and eat right every day, an all-natural daily weight-loss supplement is a safe and effective way to support and help maintain healthy weight loss—and a healthy blood pressure.
Choose Aspirin for Safer Pain Relief
If acetaminophen is your go-to choice for pain relief, you may be making your blood pressure worse.
As the most common drug ingredient in America, acetaminophen (APAP) is best known under the brand name Tylenol. However, APAP is included in over 600 over-the-counter and prescription drugs (both name brand and generic), including:
Although APAP has long been touted as a safer alternative to aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, new research indicates APAP increases blood pressure.
In results from studies published by Harvard Medical School, men and women taking acetaminophen three times a day for two weeks saw increases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Aspirin, on the other hand, is proven to lower blood pressure and protect against heart attack. In studies involving 18,790 people with high blood pressure (ages 50-80 from 26 countries), low-dose aspirin reduced the risk of heart attack by 36% by significantly reducing blood pressure.
Aspirin, however, is not recommended as a daily control for high blood pressure. While taking an occasional aspirin or two for headache, body ache and fever relief is safe for most adults, daily use of aspirin can cause serious side effects like internal bleeding. If you’re experiencing chronic headaches and body aches, speak with your doctor.
Cut Out Salt
Cutting down on salt helps lower blood pressure. Unfortunately, it’s a bit trickier than many diet gurus would have you believe.
There’s no question that salt is a big contributor to high blood pressure. Eating too much salt causes your body to retain water, which raises your blood pressure. To maintain healthy blood pressure, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 1,500mg (¾ tsp.) of salt per day.
The trouble is, cutting back on salt means more than putting down the salt shaker or switching to a salt substitute. It means checking food labels every time you shop, because modern foods are loaded with salt under different names:
- Baking soda
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Disodium phosphate
The good news: Salt in processed foods has declined, on average, by 3.5% since 2005. So if you forget to check a few labels, it’s probably not the end of the world.
The bad news: The salt content of fast foods has increased by 2.6% since 2005, and it doesn’t take much to push your salt levels over the top.
Once simple slice of cheese pizza from a chain restaurant, for example, can have up to 900mgs of salt. A Subway Steak & Cheese sandwich delivers 1,030mgs of salt, and a large order of KFC Popcorn Nuggets skyrockets salt intake to 1,820mgs. And salty side order like fries, biscuits or dipping sauces only push salt levels higher.
To reduce your daily salt intake when shopping or dining out, avoid any label with the words “soda” or “sodium,” or the symbol “Na.” Choose low-sodium versions of your favorite foods, and use fresh vegetables instead of salty canned vegetables when cooking. Also, choose fruit or raw vegetables as between-meal snacks.
If you’re a smoker, you’ve likely heard it before: Smoking causes high blood pressure and increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. As if that wasn’t enough of a reason to quit, smoking also causes cancer, lung disease, emphysema and death.
For these reasons and more, quitting smoking is a no-brainer for healthy blood pressure and a longer life. And to non-smokers, quitting can seem easy. But here’s what non-smokers don’t understand... and why quitting smoking can be extremely difficult.
Smoking has nothing to do with ignorance. If you’re a smoker, you’re still a smart person. You know the score, and failing to quit has nothing to do with foolishness or lack of willpower.
It comes down to the iron grip of nicotine addiction.
Research shows that nicotine is just as addictive as heroin—but it’s harder to quit. And tobacco companies have only made it harder for smokers to kick the habit. Nicotine levels in cigarettes have increased. Smoke is easier to inhale, and sugars added to tobacco form the chemical Acetaldehyde, which enhances nicotine’s addictive effects.
Now, this information isn’t so you have one more reason to tell people why you can’t quit smoking. It’s to help you get clear… to zero in on the real issue of physical addiction so you can focus your efforts on the right tools to help you quit smoking. And you’ve got lots of tools in your corner, from nicotine gums and patches to one of the simplest, all-natural quit-smoking aids: Cinnamon sticks.
Many people attribute the mimicry of “inhaling” on a cinnamon stick to be cinnamon’s true strength as a quit-smoking aid. However, the effect may be more than psychological.
The effect may come down to Cinnamaldehyde, a natural compound that provides the characteristic aroma to cinnamon, and the compound is being given some serious attention. In 2016, the Pacific University School of Pharmacy in Hillsboro, OR, was given more than $375,000 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse for a three-year study into Cinnamaldehyde as a quit-smoking compound that works on a cellular level.
Preliminary research indicates that Cinnamaldehyde acts as an inhibitor of a key enzyme that metabolizes nicotine, which means Cinnamaldehyde may act to effectively curb nicotine cravings.
Stress causes short-term elevations in blood pressure, and repeated stress can lead to dangerously high blood pressure.
As a physical reaction to a perceived threat (e.g. a barking dog), stress causes your adrenal glands to release hormones that increase your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow. This reaction is designed to give you more energy to either fight or flee.
As a survival mechanism passed down from our Stone Age ancestors, the fight-or-flight response is beneficial in the face of real danger.
Unfortunately, many factors can trigger a stress response, including job strain, emotional distress and environmental noise. So high blood pressure becomes more constant and your risk of heart attack and stroke go up.
The more you learn to relax, the more you keep your stress and blood pressure in check, and there are many ways to relax:
- Music therapy
The problem: Many people view relaxation as just one more thing to fit into their busy days, and this ironically causes more stress.
In order to manage stress through relaxation, you are going to have to make some changes to your life, but they don’t need to be major ones to still see results.
An easy 10-minute walk at lunch can easily reduce stress. Other simple ways to reduce stress in 5 minutes or less:
- Stop, breathe deeply and count to 10, then back to 1
- Use creative visualization (a.k.a. daydreaming)
- Sit back, read a book and enjoy a hot drink lightly dusted with your favorite spice
Cut Back on Alcohol
In small amounts, alcohol can be beneficial to blood pressure. However, having more than three drinks in one sitting can increase your blood pressure, and repeated drinking can cause long-term blood-pressure increases.
If you have high blood pressure, safe moderation is considered to be:
- 2 drinks per day for men under age 65
- 1 drink per day for men older than age 65
- 1 drink per day for women of any age
1 drink is considered to be:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits
If you’re a heavy drinker, you should reduce how much you drink slowly over one to two weeks. Heavy drinkers who stop suddenly are at risk of developing high blood pressure for several days.
IMPORTANT MEDICAL NOTE
If you’re currently taking an ACE inhibitor like Zestril, Vasotec or Lisinopril to control your high blood pressure… or if you’re taking a beta-blocker like Brevibloc, Lopressor or Zebeta… alcohol presents extra dangers.
Alcohol can amplify the blood-pressure reduction effects of ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, causing your blood pressure to drop too much, and the risks of low blood pressure include:
- Dizziness, fainting and injury from falling
- Fatigue and depression
- Blurred vision and nausea
If you don’t know whether your blood-pressure medication is an ACE inhibitor or beta-blocker, speak with your pharmacist.
Eat Less Red Meat
Red meat is a rich source of B12, Folate, Magnesium and other essential nutrients for optimal health. However, red meat is directly associated with high blood pressure because it’s rich in iron.
In a recent international study involving 4,680 adults from the United States, the UK, China and Japan, researchers found that higher red meat consumption contributed to increases in both systolic and diastolic blood-pressure levels.
In the same study, researchers found that participants combining non-meat diets with iron supplements consistently experienced lower blood pressure.
The reason for the difference has to do with the kind of iron found in red meat.
Red meat contains both haem and non-haem forms of iron (both of which are also found in poultry and fish). Plant-based and iron-fortified foods only contain non-haem iron.
Top Food Sources for Non-Haem Iron
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole eggs
If you can’t completely give up red meat, the American Heart Association recommends eating lean meats trimmed of fat, chicken or fish, and limiting daily servings to less than 6 ounces (slightly smaller than the size of two decks of playing cards).
Also, choose healthier methods cooking. Instead of frying, try baking, broiling or grilling.