The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) defines high blood pressure as a common condition in which blood flows through blood vessels at a higher than normal pressure. If not treated, this high pressure can damage the arteries, heart, brain, and other organs. If you or a loved one have blood pressure that qualifies as high, consider the information below on lowering blood pressure to a healthy level.
How do I know if I have high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers: One is systolic pressure, which is the blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping, and the other is diastolic pressure, which is the blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. NHLBI considers high blood pressure to be a systolic count of 140 or higher and a diastolic count of 90 or higher.
What causes high blood pressure?
There are two types of high blood pressure. One of them is primary (or essential) hypertension. The cause of this type of high blood pressure is unknown and tends to develop over a span of several years.
The other is secondary hypertension. This type of high blood pressure tends to appear suddenly and is caused by a variety of different factors. Obstructive sleep apnea, kidney problems, adrenal gland tumors, thyroid problems, congenital defects, certain medications, illegal drugs, being overweight, unhealthy diet, and alcohol abuse are some of the causes of secondary hypertension.
What medications can lower blood pressure?
There are several different types of medications you can take to lower your blood pressure. Each medication works differently to resolve high blood pressure. For more information on these types of medication, you should speak to your doctor. The different types of blood pressure medication include:
- ACE inhibitors
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
- Alpha blockers
- Alpha-2 Receptor Agonist
- Combined alpha and beta-blockers
- Central agonists
- Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors
- Blood vessel dilators (vasodilators)
What home remedies can lower high blood pressure?
Home remedies might be an option if you don’t wish to take prescription medication or if prescription medication isn’t working as well as you want.
- Lemons keeps the blood vessels soft by removing any rigidity, which reduces high blood pressure. To use this method, squeeze half a lemon into a cup of warm water. Drink it every morning on an empty stomach for full effect, without sugar or salt.
- Watermelon seeds contain cucurbitacin, which widens the blood capillaries and improves kidney functions. A 2010 Florida State University study agrees with this claim, stating that adding two teaspoons of gently crushed, dried watermelon seeds to a cup of boiled water, straining, and drinking the liquid like tea can help widen blood vessels.
- Garlic has been a widely used home remedy to lower high blood pressure. Eating raw and cooked garlic can control blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels by stimulating production of nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide. One to two crushed garlic cloves daily is recommended for this home remedy.
- Bananas are a fruit that, if eaten regularly, can help control high blood pressure. They work by lessening the effects of sodium in the body. Eating one to two bananas daily can help you control your high blood pressure.
What lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure?
- Lifestyle changes should also be implemented to lower high blood pressure. Losing weight should be the first goal. If men have a waistline larger than 40 inches, they are at risk for high blood pressure. For women, the waistline should be smaller than 35 inches.
- Regular physical exercise (30 minutes a day, every day) can lower blood pressure.
- Eating a healthy diet that is low in sodium, rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat diary can lower blood pressure drastically. Keeping a food diary can help a person notice where he or she should make changes in diet.
How can high blood pressure be prevented?
Preventing high blood pressure can be quite easy. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough exercise, not smoking, and limiting alcohol use are all things that can prevent high blood pressure. While some people are genetically predispositioned to getting high blood pressure, living a healthy lifestyle can help lower the risk of high blood pressure later in life.
What kind of medical professional can answer more high blood pressure questions?
While a regular primary care physician may be able to answer basic questions on lowering blood pressure, a cardiologist can offer more detailed answers.