Reduce High Blood Pressure

When your doctor tells you that you need to reduce your high blood pressure, it can seem to be a daunting task.  However, although high blood pressure can lead to a variety of other health problems, it is, with the right action, highly treatable.

Unfortunately, high blood pressure – or hypertension – is becoming increasingly common in western countries.  Doctors estimate that as many as 1 in 7 British people will suffer from high blood pressure at some point in their lives.

High blood pressure means that there is excessive pressure in the cardiovascular system, and it is often caused by narrowing of the arteries around the heart – it can lead to heart attack when the arteries supplying the heart become blocked, or else a stroke if the blood supply to the brain becomes blocked.

Although high blood pressure itself is not dangerous, it is associated with a whole range of health problems including not just coronary diseases and strokes, but also retina damage and kidney problems.  In addition, high blood pressure is also seen as a good indication of problems with the overall condition of the cardiovascular system.

Research suggests that there are various factors that can affect your blood pressure in either the short or the long term, including pain, having eaten recently, smoking, drinking, exercise, certain medications, excitement or anxiety.

What is clear is that in addition to some genetic component (high blood pressure often runs in families), lifestyle factors such as excessive sodium intake, poor diet, obesity, insulin resistance, lack of physical activity, and stress or anxiety can all contribute to increased blood pressure.

While you can’t do anything about your genetics, almost all the other contributing factors are due to lifestyle choices.  Thus if you wasn’t to reduce your blood pressure and improve your health, you need to look to the following:

  • Watch your body weight.  Being overweight or obese is a major factor in increased blood pressure.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.   Excessive alcohol consumption has also been shown to raise blood pressure.
  • Don't smoke.  Smoking causes a whole range of health problems, including increasing blood pressure.  Quitting smoking is probably the most important step to take if you want to live a longer, healthier life.
  • Eat less salt.  Salty foods contribute dramatically to increased blood pressure.
  • Avoid stress, worrying or anxious situations.  Stress is a major contributor to increased blood pressure in both the short and the long term.  By actively looking for ways to reduce your stress levels, you can do much to improve both your blood pressure and your overall well-being.
  • Take regular exercise. Research shows that both systolic and diastolic blood pressure can be lowered by regular exercise.  And of course, it will help you to improve other areas such as cardiovascular health, weight control, and stress reduction. While in many cases doctors will also prescribe medication to help control hypertension, it is the lifestyle changes that you make that will ultimately have the most impact.