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                                                   Lowering your blood pressure

You should have your blood pressure tested at least every 2 years, because high blood pressure can lead to problems such as damaging your blood vessels. High blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease, heart attack, developing kidney failure and stroke. Having your blood pressure checked takes only a few minutes and should there be a problem your doctor can treat it and recommend changes to your lifestyle that you should follow.  Here are some simple tips to making changes in your lifestyle to keep your blood pressure within a normal range.

Stop smoking
If you smoke then you should try to quit, on top of all the other dangers of smoking, when you inhale the smoke from cigarettes and other tobacco products, your blood vessels become restricted, leading to a rise in your blood pressure by 10 mm Hg or more, for up to an hour after you smoke. Smoking throughout the day means your blood pressure may remain constantly high. By quitting smoking you not only help to lower your blood pressure but you also reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack.

Lose weight
Losing weight and getting enough exercise can help towards keeping your blood pressure down. If you are carrying too much weight, your heart will have to work harder and faster and this can cause your blood pressure to rise, which increases your chances of developing heart disease and stroke.

Limit your alcohol intake
Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink is also important, in some people alcohol raises their blood pressure a lot, while others it doesn’t seem to affect as much. You should drink no more than 1 glass of wine per day or one can of beer and if your blood pressure does rise through drinking, then you should quit drinking altogether.

Avoid excessive sodium
Some people can be affected by sodium and it causes their blood pressure to rise. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure then it is important to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet. You shouldn’t add extra salt to your food and always check food labels for the amount of sodium foods contain. Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg. Eat fewer processed foods. Potato chips, frozen dinners, bacon and processed lunch meats are high in sodium. Don't add salt. Use herbs or spices, rather than salt, to add more flavour to your foods.

Reduce caffeine
The role caffeine plays in blood pressure is still debatable. Drinking caffeinated beverages can temporarily cause an increase in your blood pressure.  Some people are more sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine and within 30 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee or other caffeinated drink their blood pressure increases by five to 10 points.

Lower stress levels
If you live a very stressful life and easily become stressed then this can cause your blood pressure to rise It is important to learn ways of dealing with stress and not let it build up. There are many self-help techniques that you can learn to help you combat stress, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga and visualization.

Blood pressure medication
If your doctor has diagnosed you as having high blood pressure then along with making changes to your lifestyle - the most effective way of dealing with it - they might also prescribe medication. There are many different types of medication used in the treatment of high blood pressure.  In some cases, if your condition can only be controlled by medication, then it could mean that you have to take medication for the rest of your life to help keep your blood pressure under control. However the earlier you start making changes to your lifestyle towards leading a healthier life, through stopping smoking, getting enough exercise and eating healthy, the better your chances that you won’t need to be on medication for life.  

Lower Blood Pressure Naturally