Following lifestyle modifications for blood pressure control are recommended:
- The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating pattern should be preferred.
- Reducing sodium intake.
- Reducing alcohol consumption.
- Exercising regularly.
- Losing weight.
- Smoking cessation.
- The DASH diet suggests a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, high in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, and low in fats. Following this plan helps reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- Although the studies are not conclusive, moderate intake of dark chocolate may lower blood pressure. This is because it helps stabilize the inside of the blood vessels. Similarly, many studies propagate the advantages and benefits of diets rich in fructose for the metabolic syndrome and hypertension.
The recommended salt consumption for patients with hypertension and prehypertension is such that sodium should be less than 100 mEq per L per day. A graded blood pressure response is usually found with a greater blood pressure reduction with a lower salt consumption. Reduction in salt intake is important in middle-aged to elderly people who have family members with hypertension.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption:
Reducing alcohol consumption may reduce blood pressure - systolic as well as diastolic. A graded blood pressure response is usually found with a greater blood pressure reduction with lower alcohol consumption.
- It is clear that patients who exercise for at least 30 minutes or more daily, especially aerobic exercise have a reduced systolic as well as diastolic blood pressure. Aerobic exercise also helps reduce weight and the cardiovascular risk overall.
- One of the biggest problems with an exercise regime is that people may start with a great interest. But the interest gradually wanes.
- Therefore, patients need to find an exercise which they enjoy so that they stick to the plan longer. Also, if one has no time to exercise, a brisk walk at lunch may help.
- The fat distribution around the abdomen may predispose to insulin resistance and hypertension. For reducing blood pressure, weight loss is an important step. A graded blood pressure response is usually found with a greater blood pressure reduction with a greater weight loss. Weight loss also helps reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
- Weight loss with DASH diet results in improving the left ventricular mass. By this, it helps reduce the stress on the heart.
Smoking cigarettes releases nicotine. This raises blood pressure by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. This releases norepinephrine and epinephrine that help raise the blood pressure. Complications of hypertension, for example, cardiovascular disease and stroke increase in those who smoke.
The confirmatory data is low but Vitamin C and Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce blood pressure.
Stress is a cause of high blood pressure. Therefore, a variety of stress busters are useful for reducing blood pressure. This may include any relaxing technique that may include music, books, meditation, etc. Meditation is an age-old well-designed technique that helps reduce blood pressure. Other benefits of meditation are well known.
For all the above, a large number of studies have been done periodically, and standard guidelines including JNC-7 also recommend these.
Start following the above measures today and do benefit.
Consult a doctor before you stop the anti-hypertensive pills. You might need to continue the anti-hypertensive pills before the above measures start impacting your body positively and reduce blood pressure.
Last reviewed at: 11.Sep.2018
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