Ten ways to control high blood pressure without medication
1. Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline
In general, men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches. Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches.
2. Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity, such as 150 minutes a week, or about 30 minutes most days of the week, can lower your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg. Some examples of aerobic exercise you may try to lower blood pressure include walking, jogging, climbing stairs, cycling, swimming or dancing. Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. If your heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure.
3. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg.
4. Reduce sodium in your diet
Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can improve your heart health and reduce blood pressure by about 5 to 6 mm Hg. The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure varies among groups of people. In general, limit sodium to 2,300 mg a day or less. However, a lower sodium intake (1,500 mg a day or less) is ideal for most adults.
5. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. By drinking alcohol only in moderation - generally one drink a day for women, or two a day for men - you can potentially lower your blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine.
6. Quit smoking
Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure for many minutes after you finish. Stopping smoking helps your blood pressure return to normal. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health.
7. Cut back on caffeine
The role caffeine plays in blood pressure is still debated. Caffeine can raise blood pressure up to 10 mm Hg in people who rarely consume it. But people who drink coffee regularly may experience little or no effect on their blood pressure. Although the long-term effects of caffeine on blood pressure aren't clear, it is possible blood pressure may slightly increase. To see if caffeine raises your blood pressure, check your pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a caffeinated beverage. If your blood pressure increases by 5 to 10 mm Hg, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine. Talk to your doctor about the effects of caffeine on your blood pressure.
8. Reduce your stress
Chronic stress may contribute to high blood pressure. More research is needed to determine the effects of chronic stress on blood pressure. Occasional stress also can contribute to high blood pressure if you react to stress by eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol or smoking.
9. Monitor your blood pressure at home and see your doctor regularly
Home monitoring can help you keep tabs on your blood pressure, make certain your lifestyle changes are working, and alert you and your doctor to potential health complications. Blood pressure monitors are available widely and without a prescription. Regular visits with your doctor are also key to controlling your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is well-controlled, check with your doctor about how often you need to check it.
10. Get support
Supportive family and friends can help improve your health. They may encourage you to take care of yourself, drive you to the doctor's office or embark on an exercise program with you to keep your blood pressure low. If you find you need support beyond your family and friends, consider joining a support group. This may put you in touch with people who can give you an emotional or morale boost and who can offer practical tips to cope with your condition.