Quick tricks to rapidly reduce diastolic blood pressure?
November 25, 2021 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Regular BP is low-normal, lately diastolic is periodically high (80s-90s). Under extreme stress last night, diastolic went up to low 100s with headache and nausea. Telehealth only suggested longer term strategies, GP not worried (but didn’t know about the 100s last night). BP is normal today. But are there any quick tricks to get that BP down? Tried cold water on the face and I remember reading something about a valsava maneuver (couldn’t figure that out last night, the water didn’t help). *Quick tricks* needed.

This is entirely stress related, BP is usually fine. But am having this kind of stress response lately. (Last night I lost it completely, because a family member was in a car accident… if you know why a hospital would release someone with a neck broken in two places, with some morphine and the instructions “don’t move an inch or you’ll get a spinal cord injury”, or how that is ever justifiable let me know… felt totally powerless, plus I’m at a distance and couldn’t convince anyone there to go to another hospital after 10 hours of waiting and investigations. That’s family member #4 that I have to worry about.)
posted by cotton dress sock to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Have you tried box breathing?
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:25 AM on November 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A family member in a car accident is a totally legitimate reason to be stressed, so first of all try not to stress yourself out even more by thinking that it's wrong or harmful to be stressed in the first place. You're not going to do any damage to yourself by having one night of (extremely understandable) anxiety.

In terms of bringing your BP down: box breathing, as has been suggested already, is a good way to do it. Or any form of structured, slow breathing. A guided meditation focusing on breath will help. I have chronically high BP and am on meds for it (my diastolic is regularly in those higher numbers) and doing slow, careful breathing is how I make sure to not make it look even worse when I'm at the doctor's office.
posted by fight or flight at 7:31 AM on November 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Also remember it's okay to wait 10-30 minutes and retake it after you've had a chance to sit and sip a glass of water. I've sat on the ground in a dark room doing veeeeeerry gentle stretches for a good half hour to bring that number down in moments of stress. My second reading is always better and more consistent.
posted by mochapickle at 7:34 AM on November 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Just to add on to mochapickle's very correct comment: I always take 2 - 3 or more readings of my BP at home, and usually discard the first one. The rule of thumb is generally if there's a difference of 10+ with the numbers between two readings, wait for 5 - 10 minutes and then take it again. I don't consider a reading "correct" until it's lower than 10 places between readings. Try not to talk or move immediately before or during a reading, just stay in that calm and relaxed position.

Also remember that you cannot diagnose high blood pressure based on home readings alone. They're meant to be a general guide and won't be a 100% accurate picture of what's going on with your body. It's totally normal to have big spikes of BP even in an average day, that's why diagnosis relies on 24+ hour monitoring.

You're totally fine, things are just very stressful right now. Be forgiving and gentle with your body.
posted by fight or flight at 7:40 AM on November 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: It was at 130-150/97-104 with pulse in 80s-90s over the afternoon and evening. Usually my BP is 90-100/65-75. I don’t tend to check it (other than occasionally, at the pharmacy) unless I get a headache + nauseous. Last night I was pretty far gone. Today they have agreed to talk to his GP and maybe go to a proper trauma hospital instead of a country ass hospital.

I haven’t tried box breathing, thank you.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:41 AM on November 25, 2021

Best answer: Continuing in the cold water vein, I have read but not tried myself, of the trick where you have a big bowl of ice water and stick your face into it for 30 seconds or so. Supposed to bring down heart rate and physical responses to anxiety and works because of the body's response to diving into cold water, etc. Supposedly. A large ice pack draped over your face might be a slightly more convenient version.
posted by mochi_cat at 8:13 AM on November 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

This is corny but sometimes if I'm so wound up that I can't even breathe slowly for more than a few seconds, I'll listen to some new age music mixes on youtube (you know, the stereotypical kind you might hear at a massage session or on a parody video). The kind with slow, swelling music that makes it easier to breathe deeply. I can't link here to the one I like the most, but sometime you could just look up "new age massage music" or something and find one to bookmark for when you need it.

Also I've found that if I've been doing breathing exercises or meditation regularly, then often just one breath is enough to start letting go. If I don't do it regularly (which is most of the time), it takes longer.
posted by trig at 8:14 AM on November 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Along the lines of box breathing, try doing a physiological sigh It’s an anxiety reducing effect, but that sounds like what you are looking for here.

Also as pointed out, you really don’t need to be worrying about your blood pressure in these situations, it’s normal for it to be elevated; you just don’t want it to be chronically elevated. And what you describe is not that high, especially for a stressful situation. I suspect worrying about your bp right now is just another way a stressed brain in grabbing on to an additional stressor like some of us do.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:14 AM on November 25, 2021 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Idk, like I said I don’t check it unless I have a headache and feel like vomiting. But point taken.

Thanks for your tips everyone.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:37 AM on November 25, 2021

Best answer: The actual cold water trick is more than a splash. You want to trigger the Mammalian Dive Reflex by holding your breath and immersing your face in very cold (generally ice cold, but if you live in a cold climate and can get real cold water out of the tap or outside that'll do) water for at least 30 seconds.

I find the easiest way is with your biggest mixing bowl, ice water, and either standing at the kitchen counter or sitting at a dining table. Sinks are generally at an awkward height. When I'm in the middle of a panic attack that is too much work for me to do myself if I'm alone, so I just get in the shower - the very cold water on my body seems to speed the response anyway, so 30 seconds is plenty.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:41 AM on November 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: For the Mammalian Dive Reflex, I use a very wet, very cold washcloth with good effect when I get an occasional episode of tachycardia. You can learn the Valsalva Maneuver, which may initially raise BP, but then has a strong calming effect.

Mostly, I'd recommend you drink a glass of water, play calm beautiful music, and pay attention to your breathing for 10 minutes of so. I used to keep some Xanax handy, but haven't used any in years.
posted by theora55 at 10:29 AM on November 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Literally eat some beets. Beets contain a chemical that lowers blood pressure.
posted by bq at 12:35 PM on November 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Resting / napping / sleeping on your left side brings down blood pressure immediately, per a OB-GYN nurse when my blood pressure spiked during labor.
posted by mulcahy at 7:07 PM on November 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

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