Tips to bring your blood pressure down quickly
High blood pressure is diagnosed when the force of your blood pressing against the artery wall is too high for an extended period of time. Some people have high blood pressure due to genetics, while others get hypertension (high blood pressure) as a side effect of another condition or medication.
Regardless, addressing high blood pressure is important. People with high blood pressure are at greater risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and more.
If you use a home blood pressure monitor to keep track of your blood pressure, you might be more likely to notice when your blood pressure is too high. You also might notice when it is too high due to symptoms like:
However, many people have no symptoms when their blood pressure is too high.
When your blood pressure numbers are higher than what your doctor recommends, try these techniques to bring it down quickly:
Take a bath or shower
Taking a hot bath or shower for 15 minutes can help your mind and muscles relax. If you have access to a sauna or steam room, it can have the same effect. These heated environments help your blood vessels to dilate, or open up, which lowers your blood pressure.
Doing breathing exercises may help to lower your blood pressure quickly. One simple exercise you can try is to inhale and count to four. Then, exhale while counting to four. Once you get comfortable with this length of breath, you can length the count of your inhales and exhales to six or eight.
You can also try a device called RESPeRATE. This is the only non-medication treatment approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to lower blood pressure. It uses sounds to guide breathing exercises, with the goal of lowering your respiratory rate to fewer than ten breaths per minute.
Studies show that this device works at least as well as some blood pressure medications. These studies also showed that the benefits of lower blood pressure lasted after using the device.
In general, relaxing can help to lower your blood pressure. You can try meditation, curling up with a good book, or just sitting down and taking a few moments for yourself. Some gentle movement practices like yoga or stretching may also help to lower your blood pressure.
General tips to lower blood pressure
There are also many things you can try that may lower your blood pressure over the long term.
Being overweight makes you more at risk for high blood pressure. Additionally, it makes you more likely to have sleep apnea, which can raise your blood pressure. Losing weight can consequently help to reduce your blood pressure.
Specifically, reducing your waistline circumference can help. Men with a waistline larger than 40 inches and women with a waistline larger than 35 inches typically have a higher risk for high blood pressure.
Typical methods to follow for losing weight, like eating healthy and exercising more, also help to lower your blood pressure. Exercising for about 30 minutes each day and eating a diet with plenty of whole grains and vegetables may contribute to lowering your blood pressure.
Follow a low-sodium diet
Sodium can contribute to high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure may want to aim to eat 1500mg of salt (sodium) per day.
To limit your salt intake:
- Read food labels to understand how much salt is in each product.
- Use herbs and spices to season your food instead of salt.
- Reduce your intake of processed foods.
Every time you smoke a cigarette, your blood pressure goes up for a few minutes. Quitting smoking can lower your overall blood pressure and improve your health in general. Doing so reduces your risk of heart disease and may prolong your life compared to people who do not quit smoking.
Reduce your stress
While stress itself can contribute to high blood pressure, the coping mechanisms that many people turn to during stressful times can inadvertently lead to high blood pressure. Alcohol, cigarettes, some recreational drugs, and unhealthy foods may raise your blood pressure.
Reducing stress on its own may help to lower your blood pressure, and eliminating these less healthy coping mechanisms at the same time may do even more.
How can you manage your stress?
- Avoid stressful triggers.
- Practice and express gratitude.
- Make time for your hobbies.
- Make time for relaxation.
- Focus on what you can do to resolve the stressors in your life.
- Manage your expectations by not taking on too much responsibility.
- Prioritize your obligations.
- Make sure to get enough sleep.
- Ask for help from friends, family, or a mental health professional.
What is a healthy blood pressure?
A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers. The number on top is your systolic blood pressure. This is the pressure in your bloodstream when your heart contracts. The lower number is your diastolic blood pressure. This is the pressure measured in your bloodstream while your heart is relaxed in between contractions.
A normal blood pressure reading is typically lower than 120/80. However, if your blood pressure is below 90/60, it is too low, and you should call your doctor.
Elevated blood pressure has a systolic pressure of 120 to 129 and a diastolic pressure of 80 or below. High blood pressure is anything above 130/80.
You can monitor your blood pressure at home with an at-home blood pressure monitor. This will give you and your doctor more information about your blood pressure. These devices are available without a prescription.
When is high blood pressure too high?
If your blood pressure goes over 180/120, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.
You should also call 911 if you experience any of the following symptoms along with high blood pressure:
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Difficulty speaking
- Sudden vision changes
- Sudden back pain
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Harvard Health Publishing: "Hot baths and saunas: Beneficial for your heart?"
Mayo Clinic: "10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication." "High blood pressure (hypertension)"
National Institute on Aging: "High Blood Pressure and Older Adults."
Tufts Medical Center: "How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure Immediately?"
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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a disease in which pressure within the arteries of the body is elevated. About 75 million people in the US have hypertension (1 in 3 adults), and only half of them are able to manage it. Many people do not know that they have high blood pressure because it often has no has no warning signs or symptoms.
Systolic and diastolic are the two readings in which blood pressure is measured. The American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure in 2017. The guidelines now state that blood normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. If either one of those numbers is higher, you have high blood pressure.
The American Academy of Cardiology defines high blood pressure slightly differently. The AAC considers 130/80 mm Hg. or greater (either number) stage 1 hypertension. Stage 2 hypertension is considered 140/90 mm Hg. or greater.
If you have high blood pressure you are at risk of developing life threatening diseases like stroke and heart attack.
REFERENCE: CDC. High Blood Pressure. Updated: Nov 13, 2017.
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