By: Steven Nissen, MD
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Want a natural way to control high blood pressure? There are a number of actions you can take that will not only lower your BP, but also make you healthier overall. In some cases, these drug-free methods work just as well as prescription drugs, and without any side effects. Here are three ways I recommend:
1. Shed a few pounds
Studies show that losing a little weight can help lower your blood pressure. Even if you are overweight and lose as little as five to 10 pounds, it can make a difference in lowering hypertension.
Losing weight improves the overall functioning of your body. It offers you easier digestion, more energy, less strain on your joints and many other benefits. When it comes to your cardiovascular health, losing weight is a huge bonus. It decreases the strain on your heart and your arteries.
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2. Get moving
Regular physical activity strengthens your heart and helps your heart work more efficiently. As this happens, your heart does not have to work as hard to pump. This, in turn, decreases the force on your arteries. That’s how it lowers your blood pressure.
Exercise has strong benefits to offer. Do it regularly and it can work almost as well as some blood pressure medications – lowering your systolic blood pressure (the top number in your blood pressure reading) by an average of 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). It also helps you lose weight.
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3. Adjust your diet
I highly recommend the DASH diet, which includes a lot of fruit, vegetables and fiber. This is a diet that is low in red meat, sugar and sodium, and high in important nutrients, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. Dietary changes can also have very beneficial effects when it comes to hypertension.
Following the DASH diet can be as effective as taking a single medication — lowering blood pressure by up to 10 (mm Hg).
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Do keep in mind that medication is critical if your doctor has prescribed it to you, but it doesn’t mean you can’t take effective, drug-free steps that can help lower BP and improve your health.