6 Natural Way for Managing High Blood Pressure: Symptoms, Causes, Medication, Diet & More

H

igh blood pressure is a global menace affecting millions of people all over the world. It has been cited as the leading cause of cardiovascular mortality by WHO (World Health Organization). It is a chronic and dangerous condition that increases a person’s risk of heart failure. This condition is also referred to as the silent killer. Keeping it under control is essential for healthy living. [1]


What Is High Blood Pressure?

Hypertension, popularly referred to as high blood pressure, is a chronic condition in which the blood pressure level in the arteries persistently remains at a higher level. If left untreated for a long period of time, high blood pressure can cause severe damage to one’s health. It can increase the risk of heart failure, stroke, vision loss and coronary artery disease in a person. [2]


Blood Pressure Readings

Blood pressure is expressed by systolic and diastolic pressures. In adults, the optimum blood pressure level is known to be 120mm HG/ 80mmHG. Ideally, the systolic blood pressure level should be less than 130 mmHg and the diastolic pressure should be less than 85 mmHg. When the systolic pressure is between 150 and159 and diastolic between 90 and 99, blood pressure is said to be mildly elevated. In the case of hypertension, the systolic pressure is higher than 230 and the diastolic pressure is above 130. [3]

The systolic blood pressure or the higher number in the blood pressure reading measures the amount of pressure in the vessels when the heart contracts and pumps blood. People whose systolic blood pressure is between 120-139 mmHg are considered to be pre-hypertensive. On the other hand, diastolic blood pressure or the lower number in the blood pressure reading measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. Individuals in the prehypertension phase are known to have diastolic pressure between 80-89 mm Hg. [4]


Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

It is common for high blood pressure to go unnoticed. It is believed that approximately one-third of people who have high blood pressure are unaware of it. That is why it is important to check blood pressure on a regular basis.
Here are some of the symptoms of extremely high blood pressure that may indicate a hypertensive crisis:

  • A severe headache
  • Fatigue
  • Breathing problems
  • Chest pain
  • Vision problems
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pounding in the chest, neck or ears [5]


Causes of High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is either primary or secondary. Primary hypertension is caused due to genetic and environmental factors while secondary hypertension is often a result of a disease. Secondary hypertension is associated with kidney diseases, Conn’s syndrome, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, obesity, sleep apnea, and a few others.

Primary hypertension is known to worsen with age. High sodium intake, inactive lifestyle and depression are known to increase the risk of hypertension. It has been found that more than 90% of cases of hypertension are primary.[6]


Health Complications of High Blood Pressure

There are plenty of ways in which high blood pressure can affect your health. First and foremost, high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels by straining the artery walls. By doing so, it can cause a heart attack, aneurysm, and heart failure. Apart from that, high blood pressure can also lead to other ailments like dementia and metabolic syndrome and can weaken the blood vessels in the kidney. [7]


How to Naturally Reverse Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?

Here is a list of natural ways to tackle the symptoms of high blood pressure and improve your overall health.

1. Healthy Diet

The type of food you consume can have a significant impact on your blood pressure. There are certain food items that can raise the blood pressure level, while there are those that can lower it. People who suffer from hypertension should be extra cautious about the type of food they consume. Experts have designed a specific eating plan that comprises of food items best-suited for individuals suffering from high blood pressure. This plan is popularly referred to as DASH.

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Designed and promoted by NIH (National Institutes of Health) and highly recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture, this is a diet plan enriched with fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy food, and vegetables. This diet can help you reach your nutritional goals and maintain a healthy blood pressure level. This nutrient-rich diet provides your body with essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. On the other hand, it encourages you to reduce sodium intake.

Apart from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, you can also include fish, poultry, and legumes in your diet. Certain food items such as red meat, nuts, and seeds, sweets and fat can also be consumed in small quantities. This diet not only helps you control your blood pressure but also helps reduce the risk of developing heart diseases and other ailments such as diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and cancer. [8]

Things To Eat – You can consume 6-8 servings of grains per day such as a slice of whole-wheat bread, an ounce of dry cereal or ½ cup cooked brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. They will provide your body sufficient fiber and important nutrients. When it comes to vegetables, 4-5 servings a day is considered to be enough. Incorporate green vegetables in your diet along with tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, etc. While buying vegetables, it is best practice to go with fresh and frozen ones. Try to increase the intake of vegetables without added salt.

The DASH diet encourages you to consume 4-5 servings of fruits (fresh, frozen or canned) daily. Fruits such as apples, pears, etc., contain less fat and are known to be replete with fiber, potassium, and magnesium. In fact, fruits are not just healthy food items, but they are also delicious and make great snacks. As per the eating plan, on a daily basis, you can consume 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese. Dairy products are excellent sources of calcium, protein and vitamin D. Their consumption can benefit your health to a great extent. However, it is crucial to only pick low-fat dairy products.

Meat, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds can be consumed in small quantities. Meats are packed with proteins, vitamin B, iron and zinc, while fishes are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Though you can eat red meat, fish, and salmon, however, you should be cautious while cooking them to ensure that they do not cause harm to your health.

When it comes to sweets, the DASH diet encourages you to consume them in moderation. Five servings of sweets are allowed in a week. However, make sure that you pick fat-free sweet items. Nuts, legumes, and seeds like almonds, peas and kidney beans can also be consumed in small quantities. They are packed with protein, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and phytochemicals, however, they are also high in calories. Hence, do not eat more than 4-5 servings of these food items per week.

Lastly, the DASH diet recommends you to limit intake of fats and oils to 2-3 servings per day. It is imperative to consume monounsaturated fat instead of saturated or trans fats as they are known to adversely affect the condition of the heart and increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Things To Avoid – The DASH diet recommends you to steer clear of alcohol, as alcohol consumption is known to cause a significant increase in the blood pressure level of those suffering from hypertension. [9]

2. Physical Activities

Studies have found that there is a strong link between a sedentary lifestyle and high blood pressure. Those who are physically inactive in their day-to-day life are more likely to suffer from health-related problems like heart diseases, stroke, etc. Health care professionals always urge individuals suffering from high blood pressure to increase the level of physical activity to keep the blood pressure under control and also ward off related problems.

In order to lower high blood pressure, you can include aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, running, etc., in your daily routine. You can also include flexibility and stretching exercises to improve the overall condition of your muscles. You can consult with a health care professional to help design a proper fitness plan that suits your physical state and helps you fight off the symptoms of high blood pressure.

Depending on your fitness level, you may either go for moderate or high-intensity exercises. Most importantly, you should check with an expert to find out about the physical activities that you should avoid, as there are certain activities that can raise the blood pressure level. In general, activities such as weight lifting, sprinting, squash, skydiving and water activities like scuba diving are known to put a strain on one’s heart and blood vessels, thereby leading to an increase in the blood pressure level. [10]

3. Reduce Stress

Stress reduction is another natural and effective way to tackle the distressful symptoms of high blood pressure. Managing stress is crucial to keep the blood pressure under control and reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases. Experts urge hypertensive individuals to live a stress-free life to get relief from high blood pressure and related problems. [11]

You can practice stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, etc., to get relief from high blood pressure in a natural way. This is a long-term approach to bring down the level of blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing heart diseases. You can also practice deep breathing that helps you relax. Activities like yoga and meditation can help relax your body and mind. Apart from that, you should stick to a healthy lifestyle by getting plenty of sleep on a regular basis. [12]

4. Quit Smoking

Studies have found that chronic smoking is one of the factors responsible for hypertension. It can increase your blood pressure and put you at risk of developing cardiovascular disease. It is a well-established fact that smokers generally have a higher blood pressure level than the non-smokers. [13]

Presence of nicotine in a cigarette can cause damage to the health of the heart and arteries. That is why to reverse the symptoms of high blood pressure smokers should quit smoking. One can use nicotine gum or patches to fight off the urge to smoke. Alternatively, one can get help from a specialist to get rid of this highly addictive and damaging habit. [14]

5. Lose Weight

Lastly, to tackle the symptoms of high blood pressure, take proper measures to lose extra body weight. A person who is overweight or obese is at a higher risk of diseases related to high blood pressure as extra weight is known to put a strain on your heart, arteries and blood vessels.

Consult a specialist to find out your ideal body weight or BMI. Then, come up with a plan to reach the target weight. Make lifestyle changes, exercise and eat healthy food to lose extra pounds and tackle the symptoms of high blood pressure in a healthy, safe and effective manner. [15]

6. Herbal Remedies and Supplements

Garlic: Garlic is cited as a potent folk remedy that helps to lower high blood pressure. According to a study published in the British Journal of Clinical Practice, garlic supplements can effectively lower high blood pressure in individuals suffering from mild hypertension. Researchers believe that garlic’s ability to increase good cholesterol (HDL) enables it to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of blood clots. Garlic extract can be used for cooking purposes. The recommended dosage of garlic to fight off high blood pressure is 1500-1600 mg.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that benefits your health in numerous ways. Few studies have found that this nutrient also possesses the ability to lower high blood pressure. According to the reports, hypertensive individuals who took 500 mg of vitamin C on a daily basis experienced a significant reduction in their blood pressure level. You can add vitamin C enriched food items to your diet to keep the blood pressure level under control.

Multi-nutritional Supplements: Supplements that contain vitamin B complex, zinc, vitamin A and E are known to work against hypertension. The inclusion of these supplements can reduce the effects of high blood pressure. [16]