If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may have also been prescribed medication to help lower it. Alpha blockers, beta blockers, and renin inhibitors are just a few of the drug formulations your doctor might recommend for treatment. While they may prove effective at lowering your numbers, they can also come with a dose of undesired (and even more dangerous) side effects like kidney damage and erectile dysfunction. Plus, by simply taking medication you’re not actually treating the problem – only the symptoms caused by the problem. But there are ways to combat high blood pressure naturally and without medication, and it’s not just your heart that will reap the benefits.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Every time your heart contracts it forces the blood out of its chambers and into the arteries. When those arteries become clogged or hardened, they don’t flex as well as they’re supposed to and your heart has to work harder to push that needed blood out to the body’s organs. That increased effort results in higher pressure inside the arteries and will almost certainly cause even more damage the longer it goes on. Keeping those arteries as clear and flexible as possible helps to both lower your blood pressure and your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
If you’d prefer to minimize the prescription medication you’re taking (and the accompanying side effects) you’ll need to implement some lifestyle changes. Fortunately many of them tie together naturally:
- Drop the extra weight – even losing just ten pounds can lower your numbers.
- Get some exercise – it doesn’t even have to be a lot when you’re just starting out. Just 30 minutes of simply walking or jogging four or five times a week will make a huge difference in your numbers and your waistline.
- Modify your diet – reduce your sodium intake and increase your potassium. And don’t forget plenty of fruits and vegetables! A healthier diet combined with those 30 minutes a day of activity will have you naturally shedding those excess pounds in no time, too.
- If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Each cigarette you smoke raises your blood pressure for several minutes even after you’re done with it.
- Eliminate the stress – easier said than done, of course. If you can at least reduce the stressors in your life and also keep yourself from reacting to any remaining stress with unhealthy habits (smoking and stress eating) you’ll be doing your body and mind a huge favor in the long run.