The exact cause of hypertension (high blood pressure) is often unknown. What is known, however, is that years of uncontrolled hypertension may lead to stroke, heart disease and kidney disease.
That is why it is so important to bring down high blood pressure and to maintain those good readings if your blood pressure is in the normal range.
The program you follow to reduce your blood pressure will probably involve lifestyle changes and, possibly, medications.
Blood Pressure Medicines
There are many different medications, and unfortunately, none of them are perfect. All have some degree of side effects and varying levels of effectiveness. It is common for doctors to try out different prescriptions until they find one, or a combination, that best suits the patient.
A big problem with blood pressure drugs is something we doctors call “compliance.” People do not always take the medicine as prescribed. They may skip doses or forget to refill their prescription.
Hypertension is sometimes called the “silent killer” because it does damage gradually, without showing symptoms. Unless you take your medicine exactly as instructed, your blood pressure could shoot back up and you would never know it. If you develop unpleasant side effects, inform your doctor, but do not stop taking the drug unless directed to do so.
If you are overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds can reduce your blood pressure significantly. Many experts consider weight loss the most important non-drug treatment.
Studies show that regular aerobic exercise lowers blood pressure and may prevent hypertension. Moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, is all that is needed. Exercise for 30 to 45 minutes, at least three to four times a week. This will also help you lose weight and reduce stress.
Hypertension increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, and so does smoking. They are a deadly combination.
Eat a low-fat diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. Make sure your diet contains adequate amounts of potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Salt’s main component, sodium, used to be a no-no for people with hypertension. It turns out that sodium does not affect everyone, but it is wise to err on the conservative side. Some people may need to restrict their salt intake sharply.
Hold the booze down to two drinks a day, possibly one for women. Overdoing it raises blood pressure.
Reduce Your Stress
You will not find this on every hypertension list, but doctors are increasingly acknowledging its value. Some studies have found substantial reductions in blood pressure among people who practice daily stress-reduction techniques such as meditation.