Updated: 14 hours ago
12 great tips that can control high blood pressure
Your blood pressure is an essential indicator of your overall health, which is why monitoring it regularly—and understanding what the numbers mean—is important, especially if you’re at risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure.
High blood pressure should never be ignored, as it can lead to health complications, diseases like heart disease, retinopathy (eye disease) and chronic kidney disease, and even death. An easy way to keep tabs on your blood pressure levels and ensure they aren’t in an elevated range is with an at-home blood pressure monitor. There are an array of blood pressure monitors out there that make tracking your readings easy, and once you know your numbers, you can take the necessary steps to get them within a healthy range.
In addition to determining whether you need medications, which you should discuss with your doctor, healthy lifestyle choices can make a significant difference in reducing high blood pressure. Try incorporating the following changes and habits into your daily life.
1. Lose Weight if You’re Overweight
Weight loss is an important part of reducing high blood pressure, especially for people with obesity, as it’s a strong risk factor for hypertension. Dr. Mehta says people who are overweight can have between a two- to six-fold increase in risk of developing hypertension.
“With less weight, the heart and arteries do not have to work as hard,” says Dr. Desai. “The heart muscle and the muscles in the arteries do not thicken. Thickening can lead to further increases in blood pressure because of reduced give or elasticity of blood vessels.”
Talk to your doctor or registered dietitian about a safe weight loss plan that will work for you or consider trying a support app like Noom. “Even modest weight loss in these patients—4 to 10 pounds—is associated with a significant reduction in blood pressure levels,” says Dr. Mehta. However, a 2013 study of more than 740 people found long-term reductions in blood pressure only persisted with weight loss exceeding 2% of the person’s initial weight.
Regular exercise not only aids in weight loss, but also helps decrease high blood pressure. A 2016 study found blood pressure decreased in the hours after an exercise session regardless of a person’s age, sex and other characteristics.
This effect can result in “somewhere between a 10 and 15 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure levels,” says Dr. Mehta.
Most doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each day. “Aerobic exercise gets the heart rate up in a gradual and consistent fashion, helps to stretch the heart and arteries, and also increases blood flow to the organs,” says Dr. Desai.
If you can’t do 30 minutes, Dr. Desai recommends at least 15 to 20 minutes a day, five to seven days a week. Some aerobic exercise options include walking, running, swimming, using an elliptical machine, cycling and playing tennis.
3. Decrease Your Salt Intake
“Salt is the enemy of high blood pressure,” says Dr. Desai. When you eat too much salt, it increases the amount of fluid that enters the bloodstream and arteries from the surrounding tissue, which raises the pressure in the arteries.
While you may not have to remove salt from your diet completely, avoid foods very high in salt like chips, French fries, salted nuts, soups, store-bought salad dressings, processed foods and cheese.
4. Avoid Excess Caffeine
Drinking too much coffee or too many energy drinks that contain caffeine isn’t recommended for people with high blood pressure. “Caffeine is a form of adrenaline,” says Dr. Desai. “It constricts the arteries and raises the heart rate, both of which increase blood pressure.”
If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor whether you need to adjust your morning coffee habit, as Dr. Mehta says high levels of caffeine can worsen blood pressure control. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers the equivalent of four cups of coffee a day (400 milligrams) safe for the general population, but most experts recommend 200 milligrams or less (two cups of coffee) for people with established hypertension, says Dr. Mehta.
5. Drink More Water
Staying hydrated may be an important way to keep your blood pressure reading in a normal range. “When you’re dehydrated, the body produces stress hormones to maintain blood flow to organs,” says Dr. Desai. This response can increase blood pressure.
Meanwhile, a 2015 study found a link between dehydration and high blood pressure, although more research is neededducing your caffeine intake and drinking water regularly are both effective ways to prevent dehydration.. Reducing your caffeine intake and drinking water regularly are both effective ways to prevent dehydration.
6. Drink Less Alcohol
A large 2019 study conducted by the American College of Cardiology found moderate alcohol consumption, defined as seven to 13 drinks a week, can substantially increase risk of high blood pressure.