High blood pressure a.k.a the “silent killer” has reached near epic proportions in the U.S. This dangerous condition affects a whopping 30 percent of Americans and leads to 60,000 deaths annually. High blood pressure or hypertension, has earned the moniker “the silent killer”  as it typically has no symptoms until after it has done significant damage to the heart and arteries. In fact, almost 20 percent of Americans who have high blood pressure don’t even know they have it and are unaware that they are at risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and eye disease. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to be screened for it by a medical professional for it .
If you have been diagnosed or are predisposed to developing hypertension, there are a few things you can do to assist in managing or preventing this dreaded condition.
1. Lose excess weight and pay attention to your waist line
This first home remedy for high blood pressure is widely known but very unpopular. However research shows that there is a direct correlation to one becoming overweight and an increase in blood pressure.  Being overweight also can cause disrupted breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), which further elevates your blood pressure. Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help reduce your blood pressure. When shedding the weight, experts suggest that you pay special attention to your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure.
2. Exercise regularly
This next home remedy for high blood pressure seems to be the cure for everything. Exercise is hugely important in longevity and quality of life. Regular physical activity — at least 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury . It’s important to consistently incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle, because once you become sedentary, your blood pressure can rise again. If blood pressure is only slightly high (prehypertension), exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can assist in maintaining lower pressure levels.
3. Modify your salt intake
Certain groups of people—the elderly, African Americans, and those with a family history of high blood pressure—are more likely than others to be particularly salt (or sodium) sensitive.  However, there is no precise way to determine whether any one individual is sodium sensitive, so everyone should lower their sodium intake, says Eva Obarzanek, PhD,  a research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. How much should we lower it? According to Dr. Obarzanek, to about 1,500 mg daily, which is about half the average American intake (half a teaspoon of salt contains about 1,200 mg of sodium). Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg.
4. Indulge in dark chocolate
This, by far, is my favorite home remedy for high blood pressure. Dark chocolate varieties contain flavanoids, which make blood vessels more elastic and lowers blood pressure. One particular study found that dark chocolate, the kind that contains at least 50 to 70 percent cocoa, lowered blood pressure in all participants, but most notably in those with hypertension. During the experiment, 18% of patients who ate it every day saw blood pressure decrease . All it takes is half an ounce daily.
5. Reduce stress
Research is definitive when it comes to stress–chronic prolonged stress can kill you. Research shows that most chronic stress is generally, work related. Working more than 41 hours per week increases your risk of developing hypertension by 15%, according to a University of California, Irvine, study of 24,205 California residents. Putting in overtime makes it hard to exercise and eat healthy, says Haiou Yang, PhD, the lead researcher in the study . It may be difficult to leave early or even on time every day in today’s tough economic times, but try to leave at a decent hour—so you can go to the gym or cook a healthy meal—as often as possible. Rest and relaxation also is a huge stress reducer. Be sure to take breaks during the day and try to take non-working vacations as often as possible. Breaks make you more productive which will help ease some of that work place tension.
6. Eat a healthy well balanced diet
Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins and goes easy on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg. When possible, choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy and eat fewer processed foods. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing and preparation.
7. Use herbs and herbal supplements
Herbs combined with a healthy lifestyle are a natural way to help your body heal itself. If you are thinking of trying herbs for medical purposes, whether that means using the whole herb or a supplement, always consult a physician. Some herbs, especially in large quantities, may produce undesirable side effects or interfere with other medications . Some herbs that are believed to assist with lowering blood pressure are:
- Celery Seed
8. Go easy on the caffeine
Scientists have long debated the effects of caffeine on blood pressure. Some studies have shown no correlation between the two, but one study that came out of Duke University Medical Center found that caffeine consumption of 500 mg—roughly three 8-ounce cups of coffee—increased blood pressure by 4 mm Hg, and that effect lasted until bedtime. Caffeine can raise blood pressure by tightening blood vessels and magnify the effects of stress, says Jim Lane, PhD, an associate research professor at Duke and the lead author of the study. His study found that when you’re feeling stressed, your heart, beats faster and pumps a lot more blood which raises your blood pressure. Adding caffeine to the mix exaggerates that effect. Researchers suggest switching to decaf drinks or going with tea .
Hypertension is a medical condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated by a licensed health care professional. Once diagnosed patients are often given medicine to help regulate their blood pressure and most often the doctor outlines a list of lifestyle changes the patient should make in order to assist in lowering blood pressure. In many cases, a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle can shorten the span of time requiring medication and may eliminate the need for it altogether.
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