Effective Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is called the “silent killer” for good reason. It has no symptoms, but it’s a major risk for heart disease and stroke.

Your blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, abbreviated mmHg. There are two
numbers involved:

• The pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats (systolic blood pressure, the top number)

• The pressure in your blood vessels between beats, when your heart is resting (diastolic blood pressure, the bottom number)

Your blood pressure depends on how much blood your heart is pumping, and how much resistance there is to blood flow in your arteries. The narrower your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure.
Blood pressure that’s less than 120/80 mmHg is considered normal.

Blood pressure that’s 140/90 mmHg or more is considered high. If your numbers are above normal but under 140/90 mmHg, you fall into the category of what’s called prehypertension. This means that you’re at risk for high blood pressure.

1. Increase your activity level and exercise more

Sedentary older adults who participated in aerobic exercise training lowered their blood pressure by an average by 3.9 percent systolic to 4.5 percent diastolic . This is as good as some blood pressure medications.

As you increase your heart and breathing rates, your heart gets stronger and pumps with less effort. This puts less pressure on your arteries, and lowers your blood pressure.

2. Lose weight if you’re overweight

If you’re overweight, losing even 5 to 10 pounds can reduce your blood pressure. Plus, you’ll lower your risk of other medical problems.

3. Eat less sodium, more potassium

Cutting back on salt and increasing your potassium intake can lower your blood pressure.
Potassium is a double winner: It lessens the effect of salt in your system, and also eases tension in your blood vessels.

It’s easy to increase your intake of potassium — so many foods are naturally high in potassium. Here are a few:

dairy foods (milk, yogurt)
• fish
• fruits (bananas, apricots, oranges)
• vegetables (sweet potato, potato, tomato, greens, spinach)

4. Eat less processed food

Most of the extra salt in our diet comes from processed foods and restaurant food, not your salt shaker at home. Popular high-salt items include deli meats, canned soup, pizza, chips, and other snacks.

Foods labeled “low fat” are usually high in salt and sugar to compensate for the loss of fat. Fat is what gives food taste and makes you feel full.

5. Make sure to get good, restful sleep

Your blood pressure dips down when you’re sleeping. If you don’t sleep well, it can affect your blood pressure. People whose sleep is disturbed , especially the middle-aged, have an increased risk of high blood pressure

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