Over time, high blood pressure can cause damage to your heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. It is also associated with sexual dysfunction. So a life with high blood pressure might well mean a life of blind celibacy, followed by premature death. If you’d rather avoid that scenario, here are my nine practical ways to lower your blood pressure.
1. Get a Home Blood Pressure Monitor
You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so I advise getting a blood pressure monitor and using it daily (always at the same time of day). Get one that uses an inflatable upper-arm sleeve (the fingertip and wrist checkers aren’t nearly as accurate). They come with lots of features. Most include an app that lets you store your readings and track your progress on your phone or computer. Prices range from about $35 to near $90.
2. Lose Weight
Carrying excess weight interferes with the calcium signaling that enables dilation of the blood vessels. Restricting dilation of blood vessels, by definition, increases blood pressure.
3. Exercise Daily
A study of more than 5,000 adults published in 2021 found an inverse relationship between exercise and blood pressure. That is, the people who exercised less had higher blood pressure. I don’t think it’s a big mental leap to conclude that at least in a certain range, if you exercise more, you reduce your blood pressure.
4. Manage Stress
A review article published in 1998 showed that stress itself does not cause hypertension, but stress-related elevations in blood pressure over time can cause it. So you don’t need to avoid stress altogether; you just need to avoid a lifestyle of chronic stress.
5. Live “Clean”
A diet deficient in soluble fiber increases blood pressure. In addition, nicotine, alcohol, and excess sugar are all associated with higher blood pressure. So if you care about vision, longevity, and sexual function, then eat carefully and avoid the three most popular bad habits: consuming sugar, smoking, and drinking.
6. Avoid Certain Medications
There are more than a dozen types of prescription drugs that raise blood pressure, so you need to work with your doctor to balance the risks of high blood pressure against whatever you might be getting treatment for. In addition, however, there are quite a few over-the-counter medicines that raise blood pressure: aspirin, NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen), some cold medicines, and certain herbal extracts (e.g., ginseng, ephedra).
7. Float Often
Long-standing research has shown that float sessions (what researchers call “flotation REST”) lower blood pressure not only during the sessions, but between sessions as well. In addition, it lowers blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol (between sessions as well as during sessions).
8. Use Sauna
In 2015, the Harvard Health Blog noted, “The cardiovascular effects of sauna have been well documented in the past. It lowers blood pressure, and there is every reason to believe that its effects are good for blood vessels.”
9. Get Massaged
A massage by a certified massage therapist will relax you, which helps with rule number four above. But in fact, clinical research among pre-hypertensive women has demonstrated that massage therapy lowers blood pressure. It also found that the decrease persisted for at least 72 hours after the massage.
You may have noticed that Peak Recovery & Health Center offers services — float therapy, infrared sauna, and massage — that provide three of my nine ways to reduce your blood pressure. Book a session today.