High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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Blood pressure goes up and down throughout the day but consistently high blood pressure puts you in the danger zone. That’s because it forces the heart to work harder to pump blood around the body. This added exertion can trigger a heart attack if left untreated. Fortunately, diet can lower high blood pressure.
One promising candidate comes courtesy of a study looking at the ways to reduce diabetes risk.
The study sought to assess the health benefits associated with drinking wild blueberry juice in adults at risk for type 2 diabetes.
In fact, high blood pressure, or hypertension, is common in people with diabetes.
Adults at risk for type 2 diabetes consumed 240 mL of wild blueberry juice or a placebo beverage as part of their diet for seven days.
Blood pressure readings were assessed throughout the trial.
By the end of the study, wild blueberry juice consumption “showed a trend for lowering systolic blood pressure”, the researchers observed.
In their concluding remarks, the researchers said “short-term consumption of wild blueberry juice may promote cardioprotective effects, by improving systolic blood pressure”.
Systolic blood pressure – what is it?
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
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The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
As a general guide:
- High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80)
- Ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
According to the NHS, blood pressure readings between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you do not take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.
“Everyone’s blood pressure will be slightly different. What’s considered low or high for you may be normal for someone else,” notes the health body.
Other ways to lower your blood pressure
The DASH diet is widely promoted as an effective treatment for high blood pressure.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a healthy-eating plan designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure.
The DASH diet includes foods that are rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients help control blood pressure. The diet limits foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars.
Studies have shown that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure in as little as two weeks.
Exercise also reduces high blood pressure and consistency is key.
“Regular physical activity — such as 150 minutes a week, or about 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
“It’s important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again.”
Beneficial forms of exercise you may try to lower blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing.
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