What is High Blood Pressure?
Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, is a condition where the consistent, excess pressure of blood against your veins causes damage. Temporary spikes of high blood pressure are normal, such as when you are faced with a high-pressure situation. High blood pressure does not develop overnight, but over the course of years.
High blood pressure may be caused by one or a combination of factors, including:
- History of smoking
- Heredity (high blood pressure can run in families)
- Age (individuals over the age of 40 are more likely to develop high blood pressure)
- Regular intake of high sodium foods
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Chronic stress
- Excessive alcohol intake
How to Lower High Blood Pressure at Home
Because high blood pressure develops as a result of several different causes, there are many things you can do on a day-to-day basis to improve your blood pressure naturally. We’ve outlined the top ways you can lower high blood pressure at home.
Exercise is the best thing you can do for your whole body, not just your blood pressure. Exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system and decreases your risk of developing diabetes or becoming obese.
You don’t have to commit to an intense training regimen to start feeling the benefits of exercise. Even getting out a couple of times per week can lower your blood pressure naturally.
Exercise is also a great sleep aid, which is another important part of maintaining your blood pressure.
Get Enough Sleep
A night or two of poor sleep may be inconvenient, but also normal for many people. Consistently getting less than the recommended amount of sleep for your age group, however, may increase your risk of developing high blood pressure.
Research is still inconclusive about whether and how sleep is linked to high blood pressure, but getting enough sleep improves many other aspects of your health. Consistently getting a full night of sleep can improve your mental clarity and focus, cognition, mood, and stress, all of which contribute to your overall well-being.
Lower Your Sodium Intake
While an occasional meal that is high in sodium may not be harmful, a regular diet of high-sodium foods can contribute to hypertension. Excessive sodium is most commonly found in processed foods, especially frozen or fast food meals.
Cooking at home is the best way to control your sodium intake because you can adjust recipes or choose no-salt substitutes for flavor. Due to busy schedules and social demands, it may not be possible for some people to cook at home every night. If you can, plan your menu in advance and cook in batches for the week. When you eat out at a restaurant, consider choosing a restaurant that offers low-sodium options on their menu.
With a few diet adjustments here and there, you can take control of this highly controllable risk factor and reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.
Just like exercise improves your whole-body health, smoking cessation also improves your overall wellbeing.
Cigarette smoking can constrict your arteries and contribute to a short-term spurt of high blood pressure. The components inside a cigarette can even contribute to damage to your arteries. These effects aren’t just limited to the user; exposure to secondhand smoke can cause health problems in friends and family members too.
Stopping smoking is a challenge that may not be doable overnight, but the overall benefits are worth considering for your long-term health, and the health of those around you.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
While many conditions are associated with a list of symptoms to watch out for, high blood pressure isn’t one of them. High blood pressure is nicknamed ‘the silent killer’ for a reason: you may not notice any symptoms at all.
Because high blood pressure develops over time, the best way to know whether you have this condition or not is by having regular screenings with your doctor. Your doctor can review your medical history, consult with you about any risk factors, and advise how often you should be screened.
When it comes to high blood pressure, being proactive can help you take steps to maintain a healthy heart as part of a preventative health routine.