There’s no denying it: The effects of high blood pressure are serious. In fact, the American Heart Association estimates that 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure, and this condition is a leading cause of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure. What are the best ways to lower blood pressure?
There are many things you can do to lower your blood pressure, but the following six strategies have been found to be especially effective:
1. Reduce stress. Stress has been shown in study after study to raise blood pressure. One of the most effective strategies for reducing stress is mindfulness meditation, which has been found to lower blood pressure substantially in those who practice it regularly.
2. Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight raises blood pressure, so losing weight through diet and exercise helps reduce high blood pressure.
3. Control diabetes. Having diabetes increases the risk of hypertension, probably because of various vascular abnormalities that develop with long-term diabetes as well as poor glucose metabolism in the kidneys. Therefore, controlling diabetes with proper diet, exercise and medication reduces blood pressure as well.
4. Limit alcohol consumption. Consuming alcohol regularly above recommended amounts can lead to hypertension; cutting back on alcohol can help lower blood pressure without causing withdrawal symptoms or cravings that often result from stopping alcohol abruptly.
5. Eat a healthy diet and lose excess weight if you need to. Many people with hypertension also have metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by high cholesterol, high triglycerides and excess abdominal fat in addition to hypertension.
6. Consider cutting back on caffeine (in particular). Researchers have found that drinking three or more cups of coffee a day can increase blood pressure in people who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
7. Get moving. Regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure, especially if you’re overweight or obese. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise on most days of the week. Exercise also helps strengthen your heart muscle so it doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body.