Most everyone knows that high blood pressure is not healthy, increasing one’s risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure, to name a few complications. What can one do, short of medication, to decrease blood pressure and bring it down to at least 130/80, or even lower?
1)Lose weight. Obesity is the biggest risk factor for hypertension. Even losing 10 pounds through decreasing saturated fats and simple sugars in the diet and starting an exercise program can make a huge difference in blood pressure.
2)Eliminate tobacco, and moderate caffeine, alcohol (no more than one drink/day) and salt. There is a lot of “hidden” salt in a typical Western diet, and one should ingest no more than 2000 mg of sodium/day.
3)Reduce stress. Get enough sleep and make sure exercise is firmly established in one’s routine. Meditation is important and sometimes biofeedback is used to help the body cope with stress better.
4)Say “no” to drugs. Obviously, certain recreational drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine can dramatically raise blood pressure. However, various over-the-counter and prescription weight loss medications, decongestants such as Sudafed, inhalers for asthma and most birth control pills can do the same thing.
If one has attended to the above recommendations and his/her blood pressure is still high, a physician should be consulted. In this case, blood work, urinalysis and sometimes EKG and ultrasound studies are typically run to evaluate the cause of the high blood pressure and to determine the best course of treatment…..Richard R Samuel, MD Family Practice and Urgent Care Hayden, ID USA