Steps to Lower Yours

You don’t have to have high blood pressure to prevent it! Hypertension, as is also known, can be preventable. Over 76 million adults have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Hypertension is the leading cause of stroke and kidney failure, and a major cause of heart attacks.

Blood pressure is the force of the blood against the arterial walls. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood out to the arteries. Your blood pressure is the highest during heart beats, when it is pumping the blood. This is what is called systolic pressure. Between beats, when the heart is at rest, your blood pressure decreases. This is what is called diastolic pressure.

Although it causes no symptoms, high blood pressure boosts the risks heart attack and stroke, as well as aneurysms, cognitive decline and kidney failure. Twenty-eight percent of Americans aren’t aware that they have high blood pressure.

Although medications can bring down blood pressure, many may cause side effects. Fortunately, most people can reduce their blood pressure without prescription medications. Try these strategies:

Power Walks

Exercise helps the heart utilize the oxygen you take in more efficiently, since it doesn’t need to work as hard to pump blood. Get a good 30 minute cardio workout on several times during the week. Try increasing speed or distance to keep challenging your ticker.

Choose Potassium-rich Foods

Top sources of potassium-rich produce include sweet potatoes, tomatoes, orange juice, potatoes, bananas, kidney beans, peas, cantaloupe, honeydew melon and dried fruits such as prunes and raisins. Going heavy on the potassium-rich fruits and vegetables is a key to helping lower your blood pressure.

Check Food Labels for Sodium Levels

Seniors are more likely than others to have blood pressure that's sodium-sensitive. Because you can’t tell whether a particular person is sodium-sensitive, experts recommend that everyone lower their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams daily or about half of what the average American consumes. There are about 1,200 milligrams of sodium in a half- teaspoon of salt.

Enjoy Some Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate contain flavoniods that make blood vessels more elastic, and even help keep bad cholesterol levels at bay. The most helpful dark chocolate contains at least 70 percent cocoa. Although a little dark chocolate is good, a lot is not better. Chocolate is, of course, full of calories.

Decaf Your Coffee

Caffeine may elevate blood pressure, although researchers are not certain why. It may be that caffeine constricts blood or it may cause your adrenal glands to release more adrenaline, which would cause an increase in blood pressure. Either way, it’s a good idea to cut the caffeine.

Mellow with Music

Perhaps simpler that just using medications or lifestyle changes, music can sooth you and lower your blood pressure. Music can stir the soul or calm us down. Music has been used as therapy for seizures, mental illness, depression, stress, insomnia, and premature infants.

Music can change metabolic rates, affect energy levels, and even digestion. Classical music has been shown to have a very positive effect on the body, and cause the increase of endorphins; both hemispheres of the brain are involved in processing music.

The Joy of Soy

A recent studyfound that replacing some of the refined carbohydrates in your diet with foods high in soy or milk protein, such as low-fat dairy, can bring down systolic blood pressure if you have hypertension or pre-hypertension.

Often people with high blood pressure feel normal, so they may not think that they need to be concerned. However, waiting until it’s too late can have dire consequences. Some doctors recommend everyone have a blood pressure cuff in their home. The anxiety of being in a doctor's office or hospital can cause blood pressure readings to be higher than when read at-home.

Resolve to keep your blood pressure at a safe level.

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