As high blood pressure is often a silent condition, you may not know you have hypertension.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in Australia so it is incredibly important to get on top of your blood pressure and lower it ASAP.
While medication can lower blood pressure, it may cause side effects such as leg cramps, dizziness, and insomnia.
Here’s how to normalise your blood pressure with natural means, though speak to your doctor before discontinuing any medications.
1. Exercise, exercise, exercise
Your heart is a muscle and exercise strengthens it – it can help your heart pump more blood with less effort. Exercise can help you avoid full-blown hypertension, surprisingly. Aim for half an hour or more on most days of the week.
2. Breathe deeply
Slow breathing and meditative practices such as yoga and tai chi decrease stress hormones, which elevate renin, a kidney enzyme that raises blood pressure.
3. Reduce salt intake
Cutting sodium means more than going easy on the salt – you also need to watch for sodium in processed foods, as this where most of the sodium in your diet comes from. Instead, season foods with spices, herbs, lemon, and salt-free seasoning blends.
4. Indulge in dark chocolate
Dark chocolate varieties contain flavanols that make blood vessels more elastic. In one study, 18% of patients who ate it every day saw blood pressure decrease. Make sure the dark choccie is at least 70 per cent cocoa.
5. Switch to decaf
Scientists have long debated the effects of caffeine on blood pressure. Some studies have shown no effect, but one from Duke University Medical Center found that caffeine consumption of 500 mg – roughly three cups of coffee – increased blood pressure and that effect lasted until bedtime. When you’re under stress, your heart starts pumping a lot more blood, boosting blood pressure, and caffeine exaggerates that effect. Take up tea instead if you don’t like the taste of decaf.
6. Reduce milk intake
A study from Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association found that replacing some of the refined carbohydrates in your diet with foods high in soy or milk protein, such as low-fat dairy, can bring down systolic blood pressure if you have hypertension or prehypertension.
7. Get help for snoring
Constant snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea (where you stop breathing while you’re asleep). It’s associated with hypertension because your body could be suddenly jolted awake due to lack of oxygen. The sudden burst of adrenaline causes a surge in blood pressure. Talk to your GP for individual advice.