High blood pressure frequently kills. And it’s killing people a lot more than it used to, according to “High Blood Pressure Related Deaths Are Way Up: CDC.” The number of people who died because of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, rose from 245,220 in 2000 to 396,675 in 2013, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
‘But I’m young and healthy,’ you might be thinking to yourself. In fact, though, you might be in superb physical condition and still have high blood pressure. One of the primary problems with high blood pressure is that people who have it frequently have no symptoms. The article “High Blood Pressure In Young Adults More Likely To Go Undiagnosed Than Older Adults: Study” reports that about 20 percent of Americans between the ages of 24 and 32 have high blood pressure, but that it is undiagnosed in about 66 percent of those people.
Altogether, one out of every three American adults has high blood pressure, reports the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What’s high blood pressure? Actually, there are two components to high blood pressure — systolic and diastolic. Systolic blood pressure is your blood pressure when your heart is beating. Diastolic blood pressure is your blood pressure when your heart is resting between beats. Your blood pressure is high when your systolic reading, the upper number, is at least 140 and/or when your diastolic reading is at least 90.High blood pressure is a medical problem so doctors frequently prescribe medication to control or lower it. In recent years, though, more and more doctors have “prescribed” lifestyle changes as they have learned that lifestyle changes, in fact, can control or lower your blood pressure. “While medication can lower blood pressure, it may cause side effects such as leg cramps, dizziness, and insomnia,” reports “13 Ways To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally.” Fortunately, most people can bring down their blood pressure naturally without medication.”
One of the most effective ways to reduce your blood pressure is changing your diet. The National Institutes of Health recommends a dietary plan called Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). The DASH plan doesn’t require you to eat any specific foods, but people on it are supposed to eat more beans, fish, fruits, nuts, poultry, and whole grains than the average American. DASH dieters are supposed to reduce their intake of red meats, sugary drinks, sweets, and foods with high levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fats. The foods they eat should be high in calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium, and protein.
Lifestyle Changes To Reduce Blood Pressure
- Exercising More: A Mayo Clinic report entitled “10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication” says that exercising 30 to 60 minutes “most days of the week” can reduce your blood pressure by four to nine millimeters of mercury (from 140 to between 131 to 136 for example) within a few weeks. However, the Mayo Clinic warns that exercising intensely on weekends to make up for inactivity on weekdays could backfire. In other words, relaxing exercise is better than intense exercise.
- Losing Weight: The Mayo Clinic reports that you can reduce your blood pressure by losing only 10 pounds. In addition, it reports that you can reduce your blood pressure by reducing the size of your waist. Men are at greater risk of high blood pressure if their waist is more than 40 inches, while women are at greater risk if their waist is more than 35 inches.
- Working Less: Yes, we’re aware that many Americans do not have this option, but you should consider it if you do. Or you can get a better job. Yes, that’s easier said than done. You should know that the research on the connection between working too hard and high blood pressure is pretty convincing. People who work more than 41 hours per week are 15 percent more likely to have high blood pressure than people who work less than that, according to a study of 24,205 Californians. The bottom line is that working five days per week is way healthier than working seven days per week.
- Relaxing More: Relaxing more obviously correlates to working less, but its more than that. Breathing deeply and meditating can help you relax. So can listening to music. A study by the University of Florence in Italy showed that listening to “soothing” music, including classical music, can lower your systolic blood pressure by three to four points.
There are many other ways to reduce your blood pressure without taking blood pressure medication. You can drink less alcohol if you drink a lot, drink a little bit of alcohol if you don’t drink at all, drink decaf coffee or tea, seek help for snoring if you snore, stop smoking if you smoke, avoid secondhand smoke, get a massage, and talk about your health problems with family and friends.