How to lower your blood pressure
High blood pressure matters because it can have serious effects on your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re looking to lower your blood pressure safely, the following tips can be helpful. As well as helping to reduce high blood pressure, they can also reduce the risk of other conditions and keep you feeling fit and healthy.
Depending on how high your blood pressure is, these simple lifestyle changes may be sufficient to reduce your blood pressure to a healthier level. If your blood pressure is very high, or you’re at risk of developing complications, you may be advised to seek medical treatment while keeping up with these lifestyle changes in order to help tackle the problem.
Maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is important in all areas of your health and wellbeing, but especially so in cardiac health. When you’re overweight, your heart has to work harder to push blood around your body, meaning that your blood pressure will naturally be higher.
If this is the case for you, losing just a few pounds could make a big difference. Don’t be tempted to try and lose large amounts of weight in a very short time – this is often very hard to do and it can then be more difficult for you to maintain the lower weight if you do succeed in losing it. Diet and exercise changes can help you to lose weight in a measured and sustainable way.
Reduce salt consumption
Salt has been proven to raise blood pressure – so the more you consume, the higher your blood pressure is likely to be. It’s recommended that you eat no more than 6g of salt a day, which is roughly a teaspoonful.
Here are some tips that can help you to reduce your salt intake:
- Keep your salt out of sight when cooking and eating
- Use other herbs and spices to season your food instead
- Always taste your food before adding salt to check if it actually needs it
- Check food labels when buying food in the shops so you can avoid items with a high salt content
Exercise helps to keep the muscles that regulate your heart and circulatory system in good condition, as well as making it easier for you to lose weight if you need to. It’s advised that adults should take at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week – that’s less than 30 minutes per day.
Moderate-intensity exercise includes:
- A brisk walk
- Cycling on level ground
- Gentle swimming
- Pushing a lawnmower
- Heavy gardening
Alternatively, you could do more intense, vigorous activity for 75 minutes per week. To check what type of activity you’re doing, do the ‘walkie-talkie’ test. If you can comfortably talk, but not sing along to a song, you’re doing moderate exercise. If you can’t talk without stopping for breath every few words, that’s vigorous exercise.
Eat your fruits and vegetables
Achieving a healthy diet isn’t as simple as just cutting down on potentially harmful things like salt. It’s also important to eat plenty of nutrients and vitamins to help your body work as it should. Fruits and vegetables are high in fibre, which can help to reduce blood pressure over time.
It’s recommended to eat at least five different fruits or vegetables every day, but the more portions of different fruits and veg you can have, the better. If you’re not a fan of the taste of certain fruits or vegetables, it can be helpful to chop them finely and disguise them in soups, stews, stir fries or smoothies.
Smoking can cause your arteries to become clogged and narrow, which causes high blood pressure as the same volume of blood has to get through a smaller space. The habit is also associated with a number of other health conditions, so quitting can make a big difference to your wellbeing.
There is plenty of advice and assistance available to help you quit smoking. It can be helpful to replace the unwanted habit with something that is good for you – for instance, every time you want to smoke, you might eat a fruit or do a few exercises. This is a great way to make progress on improving your health.
Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption
Although alcohol and caffeine are commonly consumed, having too much of them can be one of the causes of high blood pressure. In order to stay within the recommended levels, try to stick to these limits:
- Fewer than 14 units of alcohol per week
- Fewer than 4 cups per day of coffee, tea, fizzy drinks or energy drinks
Swapping out alcohol or caffeine-rich drinks for water can help to boost your hydration levels and lower your calorie intake, making it easier for you to lose weight.
If you’re concerned about your blood pressure levels or you think you might have high blood pressure, make sure to get a blood pressure check at your local pharmacy as soon as you can. Alternatively, if you prefer to measure your blood pressure with a machine at home, you can input your readings into the . This will give you guidance on whether or not your readings fall within the recommended healthy range and what to do next. You can also ask your local Day Lewis Pharmacy for the recommended blood pressure monitor that we sell.