Follow these tips to help keep your blood pressure under control.
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can increase your risk of developing serious health issues if it is not well controlled. It raises your risk of heart attack and stroke. It can also contribute to kidney failure, eye problems and even erectile dysfunction. Fortunately, it’s easy to know if your blood pressure is high. A quick and simple test performed at the doctor’s office is all that’s needed. You can even measure your blood pressure at home.
Before knowing how to lower blood pressure, it’s helpful to know what’s considered normal or high.
|SYSTOLIC (TOP #)
|DIASTOLIC (BOTTOM #)
|Less than 120
|Less than 80
|Less than 80
|Hypertension Stage 1
|Hypertension Stage 2
|140 or higher
|90 or higher
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure or are trying to avoid a diagnosis, there are steps you can take to help lower your blood pressure. Many of these involve healthy lifestyle habits that may delay or reduce your need for medication. For some people, however, no amount of healthy lifestyle habits can lower blood pressure enough to keep it in a healthy range. When that happens, there are a variety of medications that are effective in lowering blood pressure.
Here are 10 ways to lower blood pressure:
- Lose weight. One of the most effective ways of lowering blood pressure is to lose weight. If you’re overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight can help.
- Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity, such as walking, swimming or cycling. Strength training also helps so try to do that at least twice a week.
- Reduce sodium. Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day (some doctors recommend 1,500 mg or less). Most sodium in people’s diets comes from processed and restaurant foods. Read labels, chose low-sodium options and season with herbs and spices instead of salt.
- Eat healthy. Consume less saturated fat and cholesterol, too. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat protein and dairy helps you lose weight and lower blood pressure.
- Manage stress. Finding ways to reduce stress may help you keep blood pressure under control and is good for your physical and mental health in many other ways.
- Address sleep issues. If you snore or wake up feeling unrested, talk to your doctor about whether you should be tested for sleep apnea, which can increase blood pressure.
- Quit smoking. Kick the habit and you’re likely to see a reduction in your blood pressure. Plus, you’ll also improve your heart health in other ways.
- Lower alcohol consumption. Although drinking alcohol in moderation (1 drink a day for women or 2 for men) may lower blood pressure slightly, drinking any more than this can increase it.
- Limit caffeine. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you are, your blood pressure may go down if you have less of it.
- Take medication as directed. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower blood pressure on their own, follow the directions of your doctor and take prescribed medications regularly.
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Date Last Reviewed: December 13, 2021
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD