How to Lower Blood Pressure?
November 8, 2004 10:44 AM   Subscribe

What's a good way to lower your blood pressure without medication?
posted by FunkyHelix to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Exercise, lose weight, eat less salt, and if the box is to be believed, eat more Cheerios.
posted by jennyb at 10:48 AM on November 8, 2004

Lower your stress levels (by meditation, etc.)
posted by azul at 10:52 AM on November 8, 2004

Two other things my doctor recommended were more Vitamin C and 30 minutes spent quietly playing with a cat or dog.

Animals are suprisingly efficient at helping you lower your BP.
posted by karmaville at 10:55 AM on November 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

Stop smoking, if you smoke.

Eat more fiber, and consume more Omega-3 fatty acids. Exercise.

Some advice here, here, and here.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:56 AM on November 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

The DASH diet is supposed to be really effective.
posted by nixxon at 10:59 AM on November 8, 2004

I had high blood pressure all my life as a kid. I exercised like crazy, ate well, and was in great shape, but always clocked in a bit higher than normal. I never took medication for it, but the doctors always told me that when I grew up I'd probably have to nurse the condition with medication for the duration of my life.

Then a funny thing happened. I moved out of my folks' house and started seeing someone that pointed out my family was basically batshit insane. I didn't know any different, so I wasn't convinced. When I was in my early 20s I went to the doctor for something and they took my blood pressure. I said upfront it'd probably be high but it was actually just below normal. Every time I've taken my blood pressure since, I've been at or slightly below normal.

So the lesson I took away from this is to avoid stressful people and stressful situations. My parents basically yell at each other 24 hours a day. Not completely in a verbal abuse or "having a fight" sort of way, but constantly yelling across the house to others, being quick to anger, and basically putting everyone on edge.

Ever since I've been selfish enough to keep things calm. I've done my best to always have a job that minimized commuting and didn't need an alarm clock. Every job that forced me out of bed at 6am ended up sucking, so I just avoid them altogether. It helps to have a stable homelife, so do what you can to make that so.
posted by mathowie at 11:00 AM on November 8, 2004 [2 favorites]

Don't overindulge too frequently in alcohol, and switch to red wine.
posted by rainbaby at 11:06 AM on November 8, 2004

Yoga (3 times a week after a couple of months) has been shown to have a lasting effect in lowering BP.
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:10 AM on November 8, 2004

Yeah, not eating salt's the thing I think. Not sure it's worth it though. </salt addict>
posted by fvw at 11:11 AM on November 8, 2004

I love salt, too (and actually think America's anti-sodium fixation is a problem, at least for foodies, because worrying about sodium so much can't be good for your BP, right?), but I've learned that rather than using salt, you can add lemon juice to many dishes to get the same zing you'd get from salt.
posted by occhiblu at 11:14 AM on November 8, 2004

The salt thing isn't conclusive

By all means, try going low sodium, but if it doesn't work, try something else, and you may as well add salt back in.
posted by rainbaby at 11:24 AM on November 8, 2004

Regular aerobic exercise is the best way - at least 20 minutes of elevated HR, better an hour, three times a week minimum. Weight loss is also helpful.

Approximately 7% of the population can lower BP by restriction of salt intake; most of these 7% are African-American, according to one study. So take that datum for what it's worth.

Lay off the cocaine, amphetamine, nicotine and caffeine.

If your resting BP is over 130/85, medication prolongs life and prevents nasties like heart attack and stroke, incidentally. What's making you unwilling to take it?
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:26 AM on November 8, 2004

Stop watching TV, the Internet, all sources of media.

Seriously. I realized that when I watch TV news, start reading fanatically Harper's, the New Yorker, analyzing the WSJ -- I get stressed out. You're in a constant state of "Oh Shit!" because things are constantly changing and beyond your control. The more I seem to know, the more depressed, stressed out I get. It's not even a conscious thing. I'm not sitting there thinking "Oh man they're pulling out of the Ivory Coast" but its the summation of all these parts that cause a constant state of "flight or fight". I don't think there's a big conspiracy to sell magazines/ratings/hits based on keeping us on the edge of our seats, it is simply what sells.
posted by geoff. at 11:26 AM on November 8, 2004

Be skinny. My BP moves in lock step with my weight. When I'm a few pounds under my "normal" weight it's very low, a few pounds over and it's very high. This is over a narrow range (10 lb either way). So I try to stay a little below what I'd be if I didn't pay attention to my weight.
posted by TimeFactor at 11:55 AM on November 8, 2004

Eat garlic. It's hell on breath and body odor, but garlic's blood-pressure-reducing properties are well-documented. I don't know if garlic supplements fall under "medication," but there are garlic oil pills out there which help the heart without making you smell.
posted by brownpau at 12:36 PM on November 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

TF, I'm the exact opposite. My blood pressure is good, even a little low, when I'm a size 16, and a little high when I'm a size 10. (I'm actually not sure which is the cause/effect, though.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:41 PM on November 8, 2004

Leaving a stressful job was in itself good for a 15 point drop for me.

ikkyu2: cost, inconvenience and a fear of side effects might all be rational reasons to avoid medication; considering that most of the suggestions proposed here would be good for you in other ways it seems pretty rational to at least look at alternatives. My Dad is 66, and after years of high fat, high stress and irregular exercise he's on a cocktail of statins and beta-blockers for life - I am very much hoping that with a 35 year start on prevention I can avoid being in such bad shape by then.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:21 PM on November 8, 2004

I endorse the no salt and exersize plan. I was on meds, and b.p. was still very high until I started w/ a sodium diet of 1200 mg/day (about half of US daily recommendation), aerobic excersize of 45-60 mins, a day at first and now every other day, AND at least 11,000 steps a day ( I use a pedometer) In the first 5 days my b.p. came down so fast that not only did I have to stop meds, but I had to augment my diet w/ Bouillion some days to keep from feeling faint. after losing 20 lbs in about a month (assume a third was water weight), I have upped the sodium a little and gone on a maintainence diet (1750 calories a day , I am 39 yrs old, fyi) . The result avg. b.p of 78/110. Oh, and no smoking. anything. YMMV, and See a Doctor or nutritionist or both. worth the dollars. I went to a special health and diet facility, but you can do it yourself.
posted by Duck_Lips at 6:09 PM on November 8, 2004

joe's-spleen: to clarify: I'm not critical of a person's decision or desire to avoid medications; in fact I feel that way myself a lot and try to encourage it, where present, in my own patients.

Sometimes learning people's motivations might be helpful in tailoring better suggestions to fit their needs, and that's all I meant.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:34 PM on November 8, 2004

Response by poster: What's making you unwilling to take it?

No medical insurance.
posted by FunkyHelix at 7:42 PM on November 8, 2004

let me weigh in as a doc, if I might.

Do whatever it takes to get it There are cheap meds available. Every day that passes with you fighting even mildly elevated BP is stressing your system. Hypertension is the cornerstone of every typical western illness and cause of morbidity (stroke, vascular disease, heart disease, organ failure) that you are likely to suffer from, and it can be simple to treat.

Understand that every thing stated here is sound. Lower stress. Take calcium, magnesium. For fucks sake, avoid tobacco, limit alcohol (huge), exercise, lose weight. But, if any of those things will take longer than three months to produce a measurable effect, ask your doc to work with you for a cost effective regimen.

Believe me, treating it now will be the most cost effective decision you ever make in your life.

One last point. A good number of my hypertensive patients are trim and healthy, w/ good habits. They have positive family histories, though. If that's you then it's even less likely you can do this without meds.

Hope that helps.
posted by docpops at 9:06 PM on November 8, 2004 [2 favorites]

posted by Pressed Rat at 6:53 AM on November 9, 2004

sit and examine the breath
posted by Slagman at 12:06 PM on November 27, 2004

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