Medications may help lower your blood pressure. Many dietary and lifestyle changes, such as exercising more, improving your sleep, and limiting sugar and alcohol, could also help.

High blood pressure (hypertension) often has no symptoms but is a major risk of heart disease and stroke.

Most people’s target blood pressure will be below 120/80 mm Hg. If a person’s blood pressure is 130/80 mm Hg or more, it is high.

A reading of 120–129 over less than 80 is elevated blood pressure. This means you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend some lifestyle tips for managing your blood pressure so that it doesn’t become too high.

Here are 18 effective ways to lower your blood pressure levels.

Research suggests that both aerobic and resistance exercise can help delay or manage blood pressure, and that after exercising, blood pressure may be lower for up to 24 hours after.

Regular exercise means you regularly increase your heart and breathing rates. Over time your heart gets stronger and pumps with less effort. This puts less pressure on your arteries and lowers your blood pressure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend doing at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or around 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. For children and teens, the CDC recommend 1 hour of exercise per day.

Tips for increasing your activity levels include:

  • using the stairs
  • walking instead of driving
  • doing household chores
  • gardening
  • going for a bike ride
  • playing a team sport

Why is regular exercise good for you?

Having additional body weight puts a strain on the heart and the cardiovascular system. This can raise blood pressure.

If your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or over, losing 5–10 pounds can help reduce your blood pressure. It can also lower the risk of other health problems.

The three key ways of doing this are to:

  • move more
  • eat less
  • eat healthily

Get some tips on losing weight here.

Restricting sugar and refined carbohydrates may help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.

A 2020 study compared how various popular diets affected people’s weight and cardiovascular risk.

People with overweight or obesity who followed low carb and low fat diets saw their diastolic blood pressure fall by an average of about 5 mm Hg and their systolic blood pressure by 3 mm Hg after 6 months.

What is the difference between diastolic and systolic blood pressure?

Is it safe to follow a no-carb diet?

Best foods for high blood pressure

Increasing your potassium intake and cutting back on salt can help lower your blood pressure.

A high salt intake can increase the risk of blood pressure, while reducing salt intake lowers it. Experts don’t know exactly why this happens, but water retention and inflammation in the blood vessels may contribute.

Potassium helps the body eliminate salt and eases tension in your blood vessels.

High potassium foods include:

However, a high potassium intake may be harmful to people with kidney disease, so talk with your doctor before increasing your potassium intake.

Nutrition labels can help you decide which foods to eat and which to avoid. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers a sodium listing of 5% as low, while 20% or more is high.

What effects does potassium have on the body?

The National Institutes of Health recommend the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) as a heart-healthy option.

The DASH diet emphasizes:

  • eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • consuming low or zero-fat dairy products
  • eating fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
  • limiting foods that are high in saturated fats and added sugars

What are some heart-healthy foods?

Processed foods are often high in salt, added sugar, and unhealthy fats. They may lead to weight gain. All these factors can contribute high blood pressure.

Examples include:

Foods labeled low fat may be high in salt and sugar to compensate for the loss of fat. Fat is what gives food taste and makes you feel full.

Eating less processed food will help you eat less salt, less sugar, and fewer refined carbohydrates. All of this can result in lower blood pressure.

What’s the difference between highly processed foods and healthy foods?

Smoking can affect your all-around health, including your blood pressure.

In the long term, the chemicals in tobacco can increase your blood pressure by:

  • damaging your blood vessel walls
  • causing inflammation
  • narrowing your arteries

The hardened arteries cause higher blood pressure.

The chemicals in tobacco can affect your blood vessels even if you’re around secondhand smoke.

One study showed that nonsmokers in areas with smoke-free restaurants, bars, and workplaces had lower blood pressure than nonsmokers in areas without smoke-free policies.

Get some tips here for stopping smoking.

Finding ways to manage stress is important for your health and your blood pressure.

Ways of relieving stress depend on the individual but can include:

Get some tips here for relieving stress.

Dark chocolate typically contains 70–85% cacao.

Cacao contains flavonoids, an antioxidant that may help lower blood pressure. These flavonoids may help dilate, or widen, your blood vessels.

However, the American Heart Association notes that while eating a little dark chocolate is unlikely to be harmful, the amount a person is likely to eat per day will probably not provide enough flavonoids to produce health benefits.

Chocolate that is high in sugar, fat, or calories may not be beneficial.

Does dark chocolate have other benefits?

Some herbal medicines may help lower blood pressure. However, more research is needed to identify the doses and components in the herbs that are most useful.

Some plants and herbs that people use to lower blood pressure include:

  • black bean (Castanospermum australe)
  • cat’s claw (Uncaria rhynchophylla)
  • celery juice (Apium graveolens)
  • Chinese hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida)
  • ginger root
  • giant dodder (Cuscuta reflexa)
  • Indian plantago (blond psyllium)
  • maritime pine bark (Pinus pinaster)
  • river lily (Crinum glaucum)
  • roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
  • sesame oil (Sesamum indicum)
  • tomato extract (Lycopersicon esculentum)
  • tea (Camellia sinensis), especially green tea and oolong tea
  • umbrella tree bark (Musanga cecropioides)

There is not enough evidence to confirm that herbal remedies can help manage blood pressure.

Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal supplements. They may interfere with your prescription medications.

Learn more about herbal remedies for high blood pressure.

Sleep deprivation may increase the risk of high blood pressure.

One reason may be that your blood pressure typically dips when you’re sleeping. If you don’t sleep well, you may not experience this phase.

Tips for sleeping well include:

  • setting a regular sleep schedule
  • exercising during the day but not too close to bedtime
  • sleeping in a cool, darkened room
  • leaving devices outside the sleeping room
  • not eating or drinking caffeine or alcohol too close to bedtime

Get some tips on sleeping well.

Fresh garlic or garlic extract may help lower blood pressure.

One review found that for people with high blood pressure, garlic supplements reduced their systolic blood pressure by up to about 5 mm Hg and their diastolic blood pressure by up to 2.5 mm Hg.

Can you eat raw garlic?

A 2015 study of data for over 1,300 people suggested that people who eat a higher protein diet had a 40% lower long-term risk of high blood pressure. Those who combined this with a high fiber intake had a 60% lower risk.

This was true whether the protein was animal or plant based.

Previous studies had already suggested that consuming protein may lower blood pressure in the short term.

High-protein foods include:

Anyone considering switching to a high protein diet should first speak with a doctor, as it may not be suitable for everyone. It is also essential to balance different types of protein and to balance protein foods with other items.

How much protein do you need per day?

Supplements that may help manage blood pressure include:

However, there is not enough evidence to confirm that most supplements can manage blood pressure.

Always check with a doctor before using a supplement, as not all supplements are safe for everyone. They may worsen other conditions or interact with existing drugs.

Learn more about supplements that may lower blood pressure.

A 2020 review found that consuming 30 g or more of alcohol appears to increase the heart rate for up to 24 hours. Blood pressure, meanwhile, tends to fall for the first 12 hours but then increases.

A standard drink contains around 14 grams of alcohol.

Despite the hype, drinking a lot of red wine is not beneficial for heart health, according to the American Heart Association.

They suggest limiting alcohol intake to two standard drinks per day for males and one per day for females.

A drink is:

  • one 12-ounce beer
  • 4 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits
  • 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits

How does alcohol affect the body?

People who usually consume 1–3 cups of coffee per day are unlikely to experience a rise in blood pressure.

However, your blood pressure might go up if you consume a lot of coffee or even a small amount when you are not used to it.

In contrast, high-caffeine energy drinks may increase blood pressure and, with that, the risk of cardiovascular problems. Experts discourage the consumption of energy drinks, especially among minors with existing health conditions.

If you find that caffeine is affecting how you feel, you might want to try decaffeinated coffee.

Is caffeine good or bad for health?

Some research suggests that drinking 550 milliliters (ml) of water within 2 hours of waking up and another 550 ml 2 hours before bedtime may help reduce blood pressure. However, more research is needed.

Water can boost overall health and may have many other benefits.

How much water do you need each day?

If your blood pressure is very high or doesn’t decrease after making these lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend prescription drugs, depending on your blood pressure level and other factors.

Talk with your doctor about possible medications and what might work best for you.

Which medications can manage high blood pressure?

How can I lower my pressure quickly?

This will depend on the cause and any existing diagnoses you have. Sitting quietly and doing breathing exercises might help. A person with an existing diagnosis may need to take their prescribed medication. If your blood pressure is over 180/120 mm Hg, or if either of these numbers is over, you may need emergency medical treatment.

Can drinking lots of water lower blood pressure?

Research suggests that drinking 550 milliliters (ml) of water within 2 hours of waking up and another 550 ml 2 hours before bedtime may help reduce blood pressure, but more research is needed.

What is normal blood pressure level by age?

Normal blood pressure levels by age:

  • Children (newborn to 6 months): 45–90/30–65
  • Children (6 months to 2 years): 80–100/40–70
  • Children (2–13 years): 80–120/40–80
  • Adolescents (14–18 years): 90–120/50–80
  • Adult (19–40 years): 95–135/60–80
  • Adults (41–60 years): 110–145/70–90
  • Older adults (61 and older): 95–145/70–90

What is the blood pressure level for a stroke?

According to the American Heart Association, if your blood pressure is higher than 180/120, you need to seek immediate medical care. This is considered a hypertensive crisis and is a dangerous situation.

High blood pressure increases the risk for a number of health conditions. People can often prevent it or manage it at home through exercise, dietary choices, stress management, and other strategies.

If home remedies do not help or your blood pressure is very high, it’s best to see a doctor.

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