Nearly half of adult Americans have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when your blood pressure is consistently too high. Blood pressure is the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels. It is the combination of two forces. The first force is referred to as systolic pressure that occurs as blood pumps out of the heart and into the arteries that are part of the circulatory system. The second force is called diastolic pressure which is created as the heart rests between heart beats. These are the top and bottom numbers in your blood pressure reading, respectively. High blood pressure is classified as a reading that is more than 130/80 mmHg (AHA). Having a consistently too high blood pressure can lead to organ damage and damage to your blood vessels.
High blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it has little to no noticeable symptoms. It can also result in stroke, vision loss, heart failure, heart attack, kidney disease or failure, and sexual dysfunction. It is important to get your blood pressure checked often to prevent these issues. This can be done at your regular doctor appointments or at the free machines located in most pharmacies.
Another way to protect yourself from high blood pressure is lifestyle changes. These include a healthy diet, regular exercise, decreased salt intake, decreased alcohol intake, decreased caffeine intake, smoking cessation, stress reduction, music therapy, and mantra meditation. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is probably one of the most effective interventions you can make at home. This diet focuses on foods that are rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products while skimping on saturated fat and cholesterol.
Table 1: Lifestyle changes and resulting blood pressure decrease (AHA)
There are also a few natural products that have some evidence that they help reduce blood pressure. Some common supplements and their safety and efficacy are listed in the table below, this is not a complete list. All this information is from the Natural Medicines database. Explanation of efficacy and safety ratings can be found on their database. Natural products are a great tool to have but are not always complete alternatives to medications. Check with your doctor and pharmacist before starting any over-the-counter medications or supplements to treat high blood pressure.
Table 2: Natural product evidence (Natural Medicines)
Some natural products/interventions that are unlikely to reduce blood pressure are: red yeast rice, the Mediterranean diet, sunflower oil, blueberry, and vitamin e.
Using a combination of these supplements and lifestyle changes can significantly decrease risk of high blood pressure and help people stop their medications. However, not all people with high blood pressure will be able to do this. Prevention of a disease is always preferable to treatment. Hopefully this post is enough information to inspire you on your healthcare journey.
Magnifico, Laura A. “7 Home Remedies for Managing High Blood Pressure.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 18 Sept. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-home-remedies#stop-smoking.
“Why High Blood Pressure Is a ‘Silent Killer.’” Www.heart.org, 9 Dec. 2021, https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/why-high-blood-pressure-is-a-silent-killer.
“Effectiveness Checker - Hypertension.” Natural Medicines, 2022, https://naturalmedicines-therapeuticresearch-com.bunchproxy.idm.oclc.org/tools/effectiveness-checker.aspx?q=hypertension&page=1. Accessed 10 May 2022.