Is High Blood Pressure Curable? Why Some People Will Have it Forever (and Others Won’t)
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects millions of Americans nationwide. It’s a surprisingly dangerous health condition, because you could have it for years without knowing it. Many people don’t know they have high blood pressure until they have a heart attack.
A high blood pressure diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. But your doctor will still recommend making significant changes in your life to manage it better. But you may be wondering: If it’s too late to prevent high blood pressure, is it still possible to “recover” from it?
Once you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, will you have it forever? Some people will — but there may be some who don’t have to. Read on to learn more about the most common causes of high blood pressure, how best to treat it, and whether or not it can be cured.
What causes high blood pressure?
The exact “cause” of high blood pressure isn’t always known. But doctors can usually point to at least one or two factors that may have contributed to yours.
The majority of people with high blood pressure develop it because of what doctors call “lifestyle factors.” These are related to your daily habits, such as what you eat and how much you exercise (if at all).
Some of the most common factors that contribute to high blood pressure include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Remaining physically inactive
- Following an unhealthy, high-sodium diet
- Smoking or misusing alcohol
- Living with chronic stress.
Some people develop the condition due to certain medications or other health conditions. But it’s much more common to develop hypertension slowly over time due to high cholesterol or your weight.
Can high blood pressure be cured?
Once you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, is it possible to reverse it? Can you be “cured” from it permanently and never have to worry about it again?
In most cases, no. The majority of people diagnosed with hypertension undergo lifelong treatment involving lifestyle changes and medication to keep their numbers under control.
However, some people develop high blood pressure due to unexpected underlying causes such as certain herbal supplements or diseases of the thyroid. Hypertension goes away in people with non-cancerous tumors on their adrenal glands if they have them removed.
If the suspected contributing factors of your high blood pressure aren’t related to lifestyle factors — such as weight or physical inactivity — you might consider speaking with your physician about determining other possible causes. Just know that many people who develop high blood pressure live with it — hopefully under good control — for the rest of their lives.
Best diet to reduce high blood pressure
Following an unhealthy diet over a long period of time can significantly increase your chances of developing high blood pressure. But are there foods that can reduce high blood pressure with or without medication?
It’s more accurate to say that eliminating certain foods from your diet and replacing them with healthier foods both reduces your risk of developing hypertension and has the potential to help keep it under control if you’ve already been diagnosed.
Experts developed the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet specifically to both prevent and reduce high blood pressure in the population as a whole. This diet encourages the consumption of some animal proteins and high-fiber plant foods and discourages highly processed meals and snacks. For example, you’d likely consume more:
- Whole grains (such as brown rice and whole grain bread)
- Fruits and vegetables (fresh and frozen)
- Fish and seafood
- Lean meats, such as chicken, lean beef, and turkey.
On this diet, you would typically try to avoid foods high in sodium such as fast food, takeout, ready-to-eat microwave meals, canned soups, or snack foods and sweets.
Best exercises to reduce high blood pressure
Physical inactivity is one controllable risk factor that could help you get your high blood pressure under control once and for all.
The good news is, this does not mean you have to suddenly become a marathon runner or lift weights like a competitive bodybuilder. Casual, recreational activities such as walking or swimming are just as good for you as more intense exercises such as HIIT workouts.
However, some of us need a structured, step-by-step workout plan to stay active on a consistent basis. If that sounds like you, you might benefit from trying:
- Recreational sports with a local league
- Swimming laps three times a week
- Taking a walk around the block two evenings per week and on weekends
- Any beginner’s workout program you’ll be motivated to stick to!
There is no “best” exercise for people with high blood pressure. The best exercise is any physical activity you enjoy enough to keep going back to for the sake of more than just your long-term health.