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Is High Blood Pressure Dangerous And How Can It Be Reduced Without Medication?

High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for several cardiovascular diseases. According to a recent survey by Statistics Canada, nearly one in four Canadian adults has high blood pressure. That’s around 4.6 million people, making it crucial to regularly monitor blood pressure; elevated pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer” as it often shows no symptoms.

Unfortunately, many people struggle to control their blood pressure. According to a national survey, only 47 percent of adults have their high blood pressure well managed. Without treatment, high blood pressure places added strain on the heart and arteries, leading to organ damage over time. It increases the risk of heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, and kidney failure.

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by blood on the walls of blood vessels; in other words, it is the excess pressure of blood in blood vessels over atmospheric pressure. There are two measurements for your blood pressure: systolic and diastolic. The systolic (top) number is a measure of the force of pressure when your heart contracts and pushes blood out of your heart. The diastolic (bottom) number is a measure of when your heart relaxes between beats. There are three levels of risk for blood pressure: low risk, moderate risk, and high risk.

Systolic / Diastolic (top number / bottom number)

  • Low risk: 120/80
  • Medium risk: 121/81 to 139/89
  • High risk: 140/90

From these categories, there are also some exceptions. If you have diabetes, your blood pressure should be below 130/80. Generally, the systolic blood pressure should be below 150 for individuals over 80 years old. However, a treating physician may decide to lower blood pressure even at an earlier stage if there are individual indications. The summit of the form.

What Can Help To Lower Blood Pressure?

The good news is that there are many effective ways to lower blood pressure without using medications.

  1. Physical Activity and Exercise: Engaging in moderate to high-intensity physical activity for about 40 minutes, three to four times a week, can be helpful. If finding 40 minutes in one go is difficult, you can split it into 3-4 shorter segments. Increasing your activity level at home is achievable – take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk more, park your car farther from store entrances, do gardening, walk your dog more often, or simply take walks around your home or a nearby park. Even light physical activity can be beneficial, especially for older individuals.
  2. Weight Management: If you’re overweight, losing 5 to 10 pounds can lead to lower blood pressure. Studies show that cutting back on sugar and refined carbohydrates can aid in weight loss and subsequently reduce blood pressure. This approach can also lower the risk of other health issues.
  3. Dietary Choices: Focus on foods rich in potassium and reduce sodium intake. Adding more potassium to your diet is easy as many natural foods contain it. Here are a few examples:
  • Fish products,
  • Milk and yogurt;
  • Many fruits such as bananas, apricots, avocados, and oranges
  • Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, tomatoes, herbs.

Eat fewer processed foods. Most of the body’s salt intake comes from processed products, not from the salt shaker. Common high-salt foods include deli meats, canned foods, pizza, chips, and store-bought snacks.

  1. Quit smoking if you smoke. Quitting smoking is always beneficial for your health. Smoking leads to an immediate, temporary rise in blood pressure and heart rate.
  2. Manage stress effectively. Modern life presents challenges from work, family, politics, and quarantines, all contributing to stress. Reducing stress is crucial for overall health and blood pressure control. Explore various stress-relief methods like deep breathing, walking, reading, or watching comedies.
  3. Consider meditation or yoga. Mindfulness, meditation, including transcendental meditation, have long been used for stress reduction. Yoga, with its focus on breathing, posture, and meditation, can also help lower stress and blood pressure.
  4. Enjoy dark chocolate in moderation. Dark chocolate lovers, rejoice! Studies have shown that dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure. Opt for dark chocolate with over 80% cocoa content and no artificial sweeteners.
  5. Prioritize restful sleep. Blood pressure typically drops during sleep. Poor sleep quality can negatively impact blood pressure. Sleep-deprived individuals, especially middle-aged individuals, face a higher risk of hypertension. Devices like a Fitbit watch can help monitor your sleep patterns and encourage physical activity.
  6. Limit alcohol intake. Even healthy individuals can experience elevated blood pressure due to alcohol consumption. Adhering to recommended alcohol limits is essential. Consult your doctor for guidance, as the recommended limits vary based on gender, age, and existing health conditions.
  7. Consume protein-rich, healthy foods, including whey protein. A diet with sufficient protein intake is associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure. However, a high-protein diet might not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with kidney disease. Consult your doctor before making significant dietary changes.

What Else Can You Do?

Additional approaches that can be personalized to lower blood pressure:

  • Medicinal herbs: Hibiscus sabdariffa and Rauwolfia serpentina. Traditional herbal remedies have been used in various cultures to address different health issues. Some herbs can effectively reduce blood pressure. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal supplements, as herbs can interact with medications. Even herbal teas should be used cautiously when taking prescription drugs.
  • Blood pressure-lowering supplements like omega-3s, coenzyme Q10, garlic, or magnesium. These supplements are widely available and have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing blood pressure. However, always consult your doctor before using them, especially if you are on medications.

If your blood pressure remains consistently high or doesn’t respond to lifestyle changes over an extended period (usually 6 months), your doctor might suggest prescription medications. These drugs may become necessary, especially if you have other risk factors.