How to Treat High Blood Pressure Without Medication
High blood pressure is a dangerous medical condition most people aren’t even aware they have. The longer you go without treating it, the more your risk for a number of diseases increases — including heart disease, diabetes, and more.
The first step in treating high blood pressure is often medication. Most doctors will recommend you start taking it immediately after diagnosis to lower your numbers. But that doesn’t mean you have to take it forever. With the right changes to your routine, you might be able to manage it just fine without a prescription.
Here are a few ways you can manage your blood pressure without medication — or with the hope of being able to stop taking it in the future.
Watch your alcohol intake
Alcohol can contribute to high blood pressure even if you don’t think you’re drinking too much. Having more than two drinks per day — especially if you’re over 50 — puts you at risk for poor heart health as well as other potentially deadly conditions. You don’t have to stop drinking. Just don’t overdo it.
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a single drink means 12 ounces of regular beer, 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, and 5 ounces of wine.
Get off the couch
It’s been a long day. You deserve to spend the last few hours of daylight on a piece of furniture designed to absorb all the bad feelings. But there is such thing as too much relaxation. You don’t have to spend every waking moment burning calories. You do, however, need to spend a little more time working out if you want to manage your blood pressure effectively.
Your heart puts a lot of effort into pumping blood throughout your body. Exercise doesn’t just strengthen the muscles in your arms, legs, and shoulders: It makes your heart stronger, too. This makes it easier for the muscle to do its job, lowering your blood pressure and decreasing major associated health risks.
Experts recommend engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes five days a week (or 150 minutes total per week). At the very least, try to stay active at least every other day to keep yourself motivated, especially when starting a new fitness regimen.
Eat foods that could save your life
Your diet is a major contributing factor to your risk of high blood pressure — though it isn’t the only cause. But avoiding foods that endanger your health isn’t enough. You also need to eat more foods that have the potential to help lower your blood pressure over time.
Some of these foods include nuts, seeds, lean animal proteins like turkey and fish, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is the No. 1 weight loss diet of 2018 recommended by doctors. But it was also designed specifically to not only help people with high blood pressure manage their condition, but also to prevent it when diet and physical inactivity are the most prominent risk factors.
Manage your stress on-the-go
Many people manage their stress by sinking deep into the couch cushions with a bag of chips and five straight hours of Netflix. While there’s nothing wrong with some much-needed downtime, it’s possible to ease your stress and anxiety without simultaneously engaging in activities that trigger unfavorable health habits.
Activities like meditation don’t have to wait until you’re alone and not otherwise occupied. You can spend quality time with your thoughts and take a series of slow, deep breaths while commuting to work, riding up the elevator or climbing the stairs, and while you’re waiting for your morning meeting to start.
Doing your go-to relaxation techniques on your way home might give you the energy boost you need to work out or cook a healthy dinner when you arrive.
Some people will need to continue taking blood pressure medications along with these and other lifestyle changes to manage the condition. It all depends on your risk factors and the major underlying causes. But many can stop taking their medication altogether and live just fine without it. As long as you’re taking care of yourself to the best of your ability, you’re probably doing the right thing.
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