Lower Blood Pressure Without Medication

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hypertension affects nearly one-third of non-incarcerated adults in the United States, and 25,734 of them die from the disease every year. Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension is known to be a risk factor for heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, and stroke, as explained by the CDC.

That being said, hypertension is a costly disease. A 2011 report published in the journal Circulation indicated that high blood pressure costs the United States $93.5 billion a year due to the expenses associated with health care, medication, and time away from work.

Medication and visits with the doctor may be the preferred method of treatment for hypertension, but there are cheaper ways to naturally lower blood pressure. Read on to learn more.

Lower Blood Pressure with Regular Exercise

It is well established that physical activity can lower blood pressure. According to Kerry Stewart, author of a 2003 report published in the journal Cardiology Clinics, exercise causes a decrease in abdominal fat, as well as overall body fat, thereby resulting in lowered blood pressure.

Furthermore, an analysis of 54 different studies testing the relationship between exercise and blood pressure indicated that aerobic activity, on average, is linked to a 3.8/2.6 mm Hg decrease in blood pressure, regardless of a person's weight or race. This analysis, which was published in a 2002 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that aerobic exercise contributed to larger decreases in blood pressure among individuals with pre-existing hypertension than among individuals with normal blood pressure. Specifically, individuals who had high blood pressure experienced an average decrease of 4.9/3.7 mm Hg in blood pressure because of exercise.

To reap the benefits of exercise and reduce blood pressure, Stewart recommends beginning with a 5 to 10 minute warm-up, engaging in 30-45 minutes of aerobic activity or 20 minutes of resistance training, and ending with a 5 to 10 minute cool-down. According to Stewart, aerobic exercise, which includes swimming, jogging, and biking, should be done at least 3 days per week, and resistance training, such as lifting weights, should be done 2 or more days per week.
Snack on a Banana to Beat Hypertension
Foods that are high in potassium may lower blood pressure in individuals with hypertension. An analysis of 27 studies testing the relationship between potassium and blood pressure found that potassium supplements lowered blood pressure, on average, by 2.4/1.6 mm Hg. The study, which was published in a 2003 edition of the journal Hypertension, found that potassium had a more pronounced effect on individuals who had high blood pressure than on individuals with normal blood pressure.

To enjoy the blood pressure lowering effects of potassium, individuals with high blood pressure should seek to add high potassium foods to their diets. According to Bonnie Liebman, author of a 2011 report published in the Nutrition Action Health Letter, bananas are particularly high in potassium. Cantaloupe, spinach, sweet potatoes, fish, beans, and milk also contain significant levels of potassium, as explained by Liebman.

Skip the Salt and Watch Blood Pressure Drop

Individuals who tend to sprinkle salt on their food or to indulge in salty fare may reduce their blood pressure by eliminating some of the sodium from their diets. In fact, a 1996 analysis of 53 studies concerning the link between blood pressure and sodium intake found that hypertensive patients who restricted the amount of sodium in their diets saw an average decrease of 5.9/3.8 mm HG in blood pressure. This study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Hypertensive patients can eliminate sodium from their diets by reducing their intake of salty snacks, restaurant dishes, and processed foods and replacing them with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. As the Centers for Disease Control has explained, much of the sodium in the American diet is derived from processed foods and restaurant dishes.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Patients who over- indulge in alcohol can lower their blood pressure naturally by limiting alcohol consumption. An analysis of numerous studies concerned with the relationship between moderate alcohol use and blood pressure was published in a 2003 edition of the Journal of Preventative Medicine. The results indicated that blood pressure increased significantly in men who consumed more than 30 grams of alcohol per day and in women who consumed more than 20 grams per day. This is the equivalent of about two beers per day for men and one beer per day for women. These results suggest that if you drink too much, cutting down to two drinks or fewer per day if you are a man, or one drink if you are a woman, can lower blood pressure.

Drinking too much alcohol may raise blood pressure, but that does not mean that it is necessary to cut out alcohol entirely. In fact, a study published in a 1991 edition of the American Journal of Public Health found that compared to individuals who did not drink at all, those who drank less than once per week had lower blood pressure than those who drank once or more per week. It seems that moderation is key.

Limiting alcohol consumption, in combination with other methods, such as limiting salt intake, consuming more potassium, and exercising regularly, may help hypertensive patients lower their blood pressure without costly medications. Maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking may also lower blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Burger, M., Bronstrup, A., & Pietrzik, D. Deprivation of tolerable upper alcohol intake levels in
Germany: A systematic review of risks and benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.
Preventative Medicine, 39, 111-127.

Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. (2012, January 17). Americans should consume less sodium (1,500 mg/day or less). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/sodium.htm

Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. (2012, September 4). Getting blood pressure under control. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/diastolic_systolic.htm

Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. (2010, February 1). High blood pressure. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/diastolic_systolic.htm

Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics. (2012, August 29). Hypertension. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/hyprtens.htm

Geleijnse, J. M., Kok, F.J., & Grobbee, D.E. (2003). Blood pressure response to changes in sodium and potassium intake: A metaregression analysis of randomised trials. Journal of Hypertension, 17(7), 471-480.

Heidereich, P.A., Trogdon, J.G., Khavjou, O.A., Butler, J., Dracup, K., Ezekowitz, M.D., et al. (2011). Forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease in the United States: A policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 123, 933-944.

Liebman B. (2011). Eat smart: Which foods are good for what. Nutrition Action Health Letter, 38(10), 1-7.

Midgley, J.P., Matthew, A.G., Greenwood, C.M., & Logan, A.G. (1996). Effect of reduced dietary
sodium and blood pressure: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of the
American Medical Association, 275(20), 1590-1597.

Russel, M., Cooper, M.C., Frone, M.R., & Welte, J.W. (1991). Alcohol drinking patterns and blood pressure. American Journal of Public Health, 81(14), 452-457.

Stewart, K.J. (2004). Role of exercise training on cardiovascular disease in persons two have type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Cardiology Clinics, 22(4), 569-586.

Whelton, S.P., Chin, A., Xin, X., He, J. (2002). Effect of aerobic exercise on blood pressure: A meta- analysis of randomized controlled trials. Annals of Internal Medicine, 136(7), 493-503.