Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Natural Ways to Manage High Blood Pressure

woman stretchingPeople suffering from high blood pressure at times wonder what they can do to keep their blood pressure in control. Besides, taking your blood pressure medicines, there are a lot of things that you can do to keep your blood pressure in control.

1) Lose weight—your blood pressure has a lot to do with your weight. Try to shed off extra kilos if your blood pressure is on the higher side and you’re a bit overweight too through restricting your intake of high calorie and sugary foods.

How it works

When you weigh more, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to all your organs. Naturally, the work load of heart goes down when you lose weight and your blood pressure also comes down.

2) Do not smoke or chew tobacco–if you quit smoking or using other tobacco products, you can significantly lower your risk of heart disease and heart attack, as well as help lower your blood pressure.

How it works

The nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products causes your blood vessels to constrict and your heart to beat faster, which temporarily raises your blood pressure.

3) Take up exercise—you can put a dent in your blood pressure with regular exercise in 6- 8 weeks and you have a lot of options before you when deciding on exercise. You can lower your blood pressure by short bursts of walking-type exercise, or by way of strength training that’s as simple as using a hand grip.

How it works

Exercise helps your blood pressure because it dilates blood vessels, reduces stress hormones, lowers the resting heart rate, and can also help you avoid coronary artery disease. Start slow and work up to 30 to 60 minutes per day of moderate exercise.

4) Cut back on table salt–sodium sneaks on our plates mostly in the form of pickles, chutneys, papads, instant soups, carbonated beverages and fast foods. Say no to table salt. Flavour your food with lots of ground pepper. Pepper is a strong, dominant flavor that can help you reduce your interest in salt. In fact, your tongue is easily trained away from its salt addiction. Sodium intake should not be more than one teaspoon of table salt in a day.

How it works

Wherever sodium goes water follows and by cutting back on unnecessary salt you can bring your blood pressure down by 5 points.

5) Slide in potassium in your diet–eat a banana or a quarter of a cantaloupe at each breakfast. That’s because both are rich in potassium. Other high-potassium foods include spinach, lima beans, sweet potatoes, and avocados. Snack on dried apricots, as like bananas they are good source of potassium. However, diabetics should avoid banana and try to sip on tender coconut water which is also a good source of potassium.

How it works

Potassium is sometimes called the “un-salt” because if you don’t get enough of it, your blood pressure is likely to rise.

6) Emphasise on super nutrient–ask your cardiologist on super nutrient like Omega 3 fatty acids and Coenzyme Q 10.

How it works

Recent studies have also shown that Omega-3 Fatty Acids may significantly lower blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels. Recent researches have given thumbs up to Coenzyme Q 10 in managing blood pressure.

7) Deep breathe with music on–according to researchers at the American Society of Hypertension’s 23rd Annual Scientific Meeting and Exposition (ASH 2008), patients with mild hypertension who listened to just half an hour of classical, Celtic or raga music a day for four weeks experienced significant reductions in 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure.

How it works

The theory is that slow, deep breathing reduces activity in the part of the nervous system that controls blood flow (sympathetic nervous system), which allows blood pressure to return to normal. As long as you continue doing the breathing exercises, you’re likely to enjoy the effects on your blood pressure. If you stop doing the breathing exercises, your blood pressure is likely to increase again.

8) Learn to manage stress

Stress is one of the biggest factors for high blood pressure especially in young people. Since you can’t avoid stress you got to learn to manage it. Taking up yoga, tai-chi, practicing breathing exercises can help you manage stress. Similarly, you need to learn to switch off from work-related issues, once you’re home. Do not discount the virtue of going on vacations in handling stress.

How it works—

When stress confronts us, our body responds to it, by getting into high gear. When you encounter such a threat, the hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, situated atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones — the most abundant being adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate and elevates your blood pressure.

9) Stop bingeing on alcohol

Men falsely believe that if one drink is good many will be better.  Several studies have found that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. In fact, research shows that heavy drinkers who cut back to moderate drinking can lower their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by 2 to 4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading) by 1 to 2 mm Hg. Dr K.K Aggarwal, consultant cardiologist with Moolchand says,  “The safe limit for alcohol is 10 gm or 30 ml if approved by doctors.”

How it works—

Keep in mind that alcohol contains calories and may contribute to unwanted weight gain — a risk factor for high blood pressure.  It has 7 calories per ml without any nutritive value.  Also, alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness and increase the side effects of some blood pressure medications.

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Category: Heart Health
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