Lower Your Blood Pressure – How to Do it and Why?
All too often, people think that men, and especially those with hot tempers or who are under extreme stress, are the only ones who need to think about how to lower their blood pressure. In truth, women can and should have it checked regularly, and everyone, hot temper or not, should know if they have high blood pressure and know their risk for hypertension! This is because a person can be prone to high blood pressure symptoms no matter their gender, whether they’re stressed or angry, and especially as they age.
Let’s take a look at why you should know if you have normal blood pressure and how this affects your health, and then how to lower your pressure, if necessary. As with all medical information and concerns, be sure you talk to your doctor before making any lifestyle changes, stopping or starting any medication, if you have symptoms of high blood pressure, and especially if those symptoms change or get worse with time.
Understanding your blood pressure chart
Your blood pressure range refers to how hard your heart is beating in order to push blood through your veins and arteries. A blood pressure range will have two numbers; these are called systolic and diastolic, but don’t worry if you can’t remember those words. The first number on a chart is always the highest and this is when your heart is pumping outward, or pushing the blood through. The second number on a blood pressure chart is the pressure between those beats, when your heart is technically at rest for those few seconds.
Your doctor will tell you a healthy blood pressure range for your age, overall health, gender, and the like, but typically ideal numbers are 120/80. However, your numbers can fall a good 10-20 points over or under this range and still be considered normal, depending on other health factors.
Why lower your blood pressure?
You may know that you need to lower your blood pressure when your doctor tells you it’s too high, but may not realize why normal blood pressure is so important. For one thing, if you have hypertension, this means your heart is working too hard to push that blood through your circulatory system. In turn, you may be prone to heart disease or a heart attack because of this added wear and tear on your heart. The heart can also become enlarged because of working too hard, just like any other muscle in your body; unlike other muscles, however, this is very dangerous for the heart and can cause heart failure.
Hypertension can also mean too much pressure on the arteries and veins of the circulatory system, so that they are more easily blocked. This can lead to blood clots and stroke. All of these conditions are very dangerous and downright deadly, which is why you need to lower your blood pressure when your doctors says it’s become an issue! Let’s look at a few ways of doing this safely and in a healthy way.
1. Lose weight
When you are overweight and especially when you’re obese, your body needs to work harder to push blood through all the veins and arteries of the circulatory system. In turn, there is usually an increased risk of high blood pressure in overweight persons; the weight of body fat and extra pounds work to collapse and constrict those arteries and veins. In turn, the heart works harder to push blood through your body, and your pressure goes up.
2. Exercise to lower your blood pressure
When you exercise, your heart works harder to push blood to the muscles you’re using and support the lungs as you breathe more heavily. You may assume this is a bad thing, but this very safe and controlled way of challenging the heart works to make it stronger. Your cells are also getting healthy nutrients from the blood when you exercise, so they won’t be taxing the heart when you’re at rest. Exercise also released endorphins, those “feel good” chemicals that relieve tension and stress, so you won’t feel as stressed or anxious and your blood pressure is better controlled when you exercise regularly.
3. Eat the right foods
Certain foods can help to feed and nourish the muscle of the heart and make it stronger, so it doesn’t need to work as hard and you won’t have high blood pressure. This includes lean protein, dark leafy greens, and fresh fruits. These all have the vitamins, trace minerals, amino acids, and protein that are the building blocks of muscle tissue and that can strengthen the heart itself.
4. Avoid foods that contribute to high blood pressure symptoms
Caffeine can make your heart race and work harder, and is not part of a healthy high blood pressure diet! Switch to decaf coffee, tea, and cola if necessary. Alcohol can also slow down your blood circulation so that your heart needs to work harder and your blood pressure increases, and it can also harden the arteries so that blood cannot flow freely through your circulatory system, also increasing your blood pressure. Reduce or eliminate alcohol altogether if you’ve been told that you need to lower your blood pressure.
5. Reduce stress and anger
While stress and anger are not the only factors for getting symptoms of high blood pressure, they are very important when it comes to keeping yourself within a healthy blood pressure range. Stress and anger both make your heart race and pump harder, but not in a healthy way. They also release damaging hormones as part of your “fight or flight” response that also damage the heart and circulation.
A therapist, counselor, or life coach can help you personally to reduce any stress or anger you’re feeling, but it’s also good to simply learn to control your emotions, put things in perspective, and let go of minor issues that otherwise make you feel stressed and angry. Exercise also helps, as does talking to a friend, or making the changes needed in your life to reduce that stress and calm your angry feelings; in turn, you’ll keep your blood pressure levels normal and will reduce your risk of heart damage.