Updated: Mar 30
By Dr. Shreya Batra, ND
How to Reduce High Blood Pressure:
Blood pressure is the measure of the amount of pressure that the blood is exerting on the walls of your blood vessels. Normally, a slightly elevated blood pressure won’t cause noticeable symptoms, however, chronically elevated blood pressure increases risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, aneurysms and other critical illnesses.
Diagnosis to reduce high blood pressure:
What is the classification of high blood pressure?
According to the American Heart Association, the ranges for blood pressure are as following:
Normal Blood Pressure: <120/80mmHg
Elevated Blood Pressure: 120-129/80mmHg
High Blood Pressure Stage 1: 130-139/ 80-89mmHg
High Blood Pressure Stage 2: >140/>90mmgHg
Hypertensive crisis: >180/>120mmHg
During an appointment with a primary care professional, such as a Naturopathic doctor, an in-office reading of blood pressure will be taken. If elevated, the doctor may advise home-readings to monitor daily and to book a follow up appointment in a few weeks to assess the severity again.
The doctor will also do a physical exam to assess the heart and to ensure that other organs are not affected, such as the eyes. If the blood pressure is at an alarming level, a visit to the emergency department may be warranted.
Prevention and Treatment
The great news about high blood pressure is that it can be easily managed and simple changes to lifestyle and diet can significantly reduce elevated blood pressure and reduce the risk of complications such as a stroke. However, there are cases where lifestyle does not make an impact and that is when it is important to get a prescription from your family doctor.
Some lifestyle changes that can be put into place include the following:
Physical Exercise– studies have consistently shown that 30-60 minutes of exercise 4-7 times per week will significantly impact blood pressure readings. Particularly, it is important to have a focus on aerobic exercises such as: running, swimming, spinning, walking, hiking, kickboxing and dancing, etc.
Diet – most of the scientific evidence for diet and blood pressure show that a low carbohydrate diet is the most effective in reducing BP. General guidelines would include avoiding simple carbs (white rice, bread), and having an emphasis on whole grains and complex carbs (buckwheat, oats, quinoa). However, the requirements vary for each person and each body responds differently. Furthermore, restricting sodium/salt intake to less than 1500mg/day helps lower blood pressure as well (for reference, the average American consumes over 3000mg of sodium/day). Overall, the best diet to follow is a diet rich in colourful vegetables, healthy fats (found in nuts, avocados), fiber and adequate protein. Requirements vary for each person, so it is important to discuss your specific diet with a health care professional.
Weight Reduction – ensuring that your body mass index (BMI) is within the normal range (18.5-24.5kg/m2) is important. It is also important to reduce abdominal waist circumference to <102cm for men and <88cm for women. Staying within a healthy weight range ensures a lower blood pressure reading and prevents all-cause mortality.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption and Stop Smoking – to reduce blood pressure and maintain a healthy range, reduce alcohol to less than 1 drink/day or <4 drinks a week. Smoking cessation will also improve heart health, arterial health and reduce blood pressure and other causes of disease and mortality
Supplementation – although there are a variety of different supplements, herbs, vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial in lowering blood pressure, the dose and requirements vary for each person. There are studies that show reduction in blood pressure with supplementation of magnesium, CoQ10, garlic, hibiscus, fish oil and more. However, it is very important to discuss dosing requirements with a health care provider as it varies for each person and certain supplements may not be indicated for your specific needs.
Other things that were not discussed above and that should be considered when trying to manage high blood pressure include: reducing stress levels, reducing caffeine intake to a moderate amount and regulating sleep quality. There are many different factors which could be impacting your heart health and an individualized approach will help get to the root cause.
If you have high blood pressure, it is important to discuss how you can reduce your risk of other cardiovascular disease and complications. Prevention and management is priority and can be done with proper support.
If you have any questions or need help supporting your heart health, contact Dr. Shreya Batra and schedule a meet and greet here and let’s get your health back on track!
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