Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Meds

With high blood pressure (hypertension) in his family history, Bill of Sherman Oaks, California was concerned when in his 50s his pressure started to climb.  Hypertension puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.  Blood pressure (BP) often increases with age and most people are unaware of such changes because they are symptom-free.  Bill’s doctor said he was pre-hypertensive.

BP readings contain two numbers, systolic (top number) pressure inside your arteries as heart contracts, and diastolic (bottom number) pressure inside your arteries as heart relaxes.  The American Heart Association (AHA) considers the following range of readings pre-hypertension: 120-139 systolic, /80-89 diastolic. Readings of 140/90 and above are considered hypertension.

Bill had no other health conditions like diabetes, so his doctor agreed that he could try other measures before going on medication.  Exercising 30 minutes a day allowed Bill’s heart to use oxygen more efficiently—the heart didn’t have to pump as hard.

I fought taking medication by running and watching my weight.  I ate lots of fruits and vegetables which are high in potassium, magnesium and fiber—all good for the heart.”

Bill purchased a home blood pressure monitor to track his progress.  These habit changes allowed him to avoid medication for five years! Then his pressures rose consistently above 140/90—hypertension.

My doctor explained the heart can wear out over time when asked to maintain a high pressure, so I needed medication to regulate it.  I now take a small daily dose with no side effects and recently my pressure was 103/72.

Lorie Cannon, RN BSN from Iowa Health Cardiology supports the use of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet that Bill and other cardiac clients use to reduce their pressures and control weight gain.  DASH emphasizes reducing sodium (salt) because it can greatly increase the BP of persons sensitive to its effects.  Statistically those more prone to hypertension include people middle aged or older, African Americans and those with family history. 

Though small   amounts of sodium occur naturally in foods, it’s the content in processed foods that is incredibly high.  Check out the DASH diet: http://www.pennmedicine.org/health_info/hbp/hbp_dash.pdf

Dr Robert Schneider of the College of Maharishi Vedic Medicine gives this advice to help your BP: “Meditation, not medication.”  Schneider researches the effects of transcendental meditation (TM) on BP.  Repeating a phrase or mantra for 20 minutes twice a day can ease stress, lower BP and help you “…gain a state of restful awareness or alertness.”  Go to http://www.tm.org/

Drinking alcohol in moderation, quitting smoking and checking in regularly with your doctor are also part of the journey to healthy blood pressures.  Sweets?  Try ½ ounce 70% cocoa dark chocolate with favanols to keep blood vessels elastic.

Bill continues to run and monitor his salt intake.  He knows these habits will control his weight, reduce his stress and keep his doctor from upping his medication dose.  Despite family history, he’s heart healthy.

man running photo thanks to Extreme_Tourist photostream


10 thoughts on “Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Meds

  1. Thanks for your very helpful comments on hypertension, something I’ve been living with for over thirty years.

    • Hi John–

      Of course you know the Bill in this piece. Glad you liked the content. I need to reduce my salt intake and walk more. Happy Autumn, Beth

  2. I too have personal experience with hypertension and recently shared an experience involving a clinical trial which seeks to address this at http://tinyurl.com/3wopgzh
    It’s something sufferers have to accept and live with intentionally. You can’t share good information enough

    • Your link led me to an excellent piece, Chief Wiz. Thank you. Concerning clinical trials for high blood pressure and the African American community, I read the Henrietta Lacks book and was frankly shocked by how her cells and her family were handled. No excuse for how Henrietta suffered. That’s not medicine. But her suffering helped make many changes in Clinical trials and I now have a friend who desperately needs experimental chemo for ovarian cancer and she cannot get it because she missed the signup date for the trial. Can we not LEARN how to be human and caring? Thanks for your comments, Beth

  3. Beth, thanks for this post. I have been trying to include more natural ways of dealing with slowly elevating blood pressure. You have some great reminders and links. Seems like the older I get, I need to “amp” up my efforts in dealing with counteracting age and stress. Blessings. Mary

    • Thanks for the positive feedback. As for efforts, yes, Mary, we all feel that way. In fact my 33 year old daughter recently asked me if all my friends talk about is their health? NO! was my answer. We are not there yet, thank God. But we do need to apply more of our energy and time taking care of ourselves. Hope you can swim or walk today. I plan to garden. Take care, Beth

  4. Hi Beth,

    Hope you’re doing well! I liked your article. I also have high bp (as does my brother) and I’m on a small amount of medicine that helps keep it regulated. I put it off (medication) for so long because I thought I could control it naturally (exercise+natural methods and herbs, etc.) Some of them helped but it was so much more effort to keep it controlled, and sometimes it would not remain controlled with all the effort I expended. And I have to say, the mental effort of trying to keep it controlled was the hardest part! So much daily thought put into the whole process. I had to finally give in and allow a doctor to find the right medication and dosage. It was a scary thing for me, and although my bp is a little higher than normal, is still under that 140/90 range and I feel tons better.

  5. Hi Lisa,
    I think you followed an excellent path–trying to use other methods and then realizing that what you were doing was harder than taking a medication. I am so glad that you are feeling better. I am still avoiding the meds, but occasionally have irregular beats. In the end I might have to take medication for that. How did your garden grow? Beth

    • Thanks, Marilyn. I have been dealing with some of these issues. A version of this was published in our local paper. Hope you are doing well. Beth

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