Blood pressure is estimated to affect about half of the U.S. adult population. Since most people can’t feel high blood pressure it’s considered the “silent killer,” because it causes a large percentage of heart attacks and strokes.
The good news is that with tweaks to your diet and lifestyle, most of us can manage our blood pressure and can reduce it naturally to improve heart health. The current blood pressure guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology are outlined below. The first step in managing your blood pressure is to know your numbers and if they’re cause for concern.
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg;
- Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80;
- Hypertension Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89;
- Hypertension Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg;
- Crisis Stage: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120
Monitor Your Heart’s Health
For the next two months, I will monitor my blood pressure weekly with the Omron EVOLV personal blood pressure monitor. Since I’ve been known to have high blood pressure readings on occasion at the doctor’s office (because I get nervous about the tension of the blood pressure cuff that feels like it’s cutting off my circulation!) I find it much more relaxing and comfortable to be able to monitor my blood pressure at home.
With my recent readings, my blood pressure is in the normal range most of the time; however, I have noticed it touch into the elevated and even Stage 1 range. Since I have a strong family history of hypertension and heart disease, it’s important that I keep close tabs on my pressure and take the right steps when it’s elevated.
If your pressure is in the elevated range, chances are the first approach will be to adapt your diet and lifestyle to lower your blood pressure naturally without medications. (However, you should always seek your medical professional’s advice for any health-related issues.)
Seven Steps to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally
- Eat a plant-based diet that promotes a healthy weight.
- Lose those extra lbs, if you’re overweight;
- Reduce the number of overly-processed foods (read the labels and purchase products with lower sodium counts)
- Enjoy potassium-packed, pressure-lowering foods daily. Potassium helps to neutralize sodium. Some high-potassium picks include low-fat dairy, bananas, leafy greens, most fruits, potatoes, squash, beans and fish.
- Keep added sugar and salt in check. Too much added sugar as well as sodium are both related to blood pressure and increased risk for heart disease. Stick with the recommended limits for both set by the American Heart Association.
- Avoid excessive caffeine. If you drink coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages, cutting back can help temper elevated pressure. I often find that my pressure trends up when I’m drinking coffee compared to tea.
- Be physically active. Cardiovascular exercise helps keep your blood vessels flexible and relaxed as well as relieving stress. Try to get some cardio at least five days a week.
This post is sponsored by Omron Healthcare. Omron Healthcare’s mission is to eliminate heart attacks and strokes through prevention and education. You can get involved with the Going for Zero mission here.