Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. And one of the biggest contributors to this deadly condition is high blood pressure. Medically known as hypertension, high blood pressure (BP) affects nearly half of adults in the United States.
However, what’s truly concerning is that only about a quarter of those adults have their hypertension under control.1
But even though sidestepping high blood pressure triggers can sometimes be tricky business, getting a handle on your blood pressure is easier than you think. With a few simple lifestyle adjustments, you can start to bring down your BP levels and get your heart health back on track in no time.
Understanding Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force that your blood exerts against artery walls. It’s measured in two numbers: The first or top number, called systolic blood pressure, is the pressure caused by your heart when it beats and pushes out blood. The second or bottom number, called diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure in between beats when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.
A healthy blood pressure range for most adults is a systolic reading under 120 mm Hg and a diastolic one under 80 mm Hg. If your systolic number is in the 120 to 129 range, then it’s considered to be elevated. But if your reading comes in with a top number of 130 or higher, or 80 or higher for the bottom number, you are one of more than 100 million Americans high blood pressure.
Ways to Lower Blood Pressure
It’s hard to overstate just how beneficial reducing your blood pressure can be. Not only will it reduce your risk of a major cardiovascular event, but lowering BP can also improve symptoms of mild cognitive impairment, which is a precursor to dementia, as well as slow down the progression of kidney disease.2 3 4
Unfortunately, the risks for high blood pressure are everywhere. Some factors, like a family history and the aging process, are beyond your control. However, most causes of high BP are related to the choices that you make. Thankfully, it only takes a few changes to reduce your risk for hypertension while boosting overall cardiovascular health. Here are five ways that safely and effectively lower blood pressure:
Lose Weight. Being overweight or obese can have a big impact on blood pressure. It can also lead to sleep apnea, which can increase BP even more. That’s why shedding even a few pounds can do wonders for your heart health. And the science backs that up: In a meta-analysis of twenty-five randomized, controlled trials published in the journal Hypertension, every pound lost correlated to a reduction in blood pressure, especially for those already taking hypertension-lowering medication.5 That means the more weight you’re able to lose, the greater the decrease in BP you’ll see.
Eat Healthy. What you put into your body plays a huge role in your blood pressure numbers. A diet full of fried, fast, and ultra-processed foods packed with sodium and unhealthy fats can cause BP levels to surge; not to mention the havoc these foods can wreak on your cholesterol count. But swapping out the drive-thru burger and fries for more heart-friendly fare can work to considerably lower BP. In fact, studies show that eating blood pressure-lowering foods like salmon (which is bursting with heart-healthy omega-3s) reduces BP, particularly in those already diagnosed with hypertension.6 Fruits such as cherries and berries can also contribute to an improvement in blood pressure.7 And a high intake of vegetables like dark leafy greens has been associated with a lower baseline of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well.8
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water either. By staying well hydrated, you can flush out excess sodium that accumulates in the bloodstream. On the flip side, it’s wise to limit alcohol and caffeine consumption as they can increase BP.
Exercise. Although it may seem a bit counter-intuitive, raising your heart rate can work to lower your blood pressure. That’s why the American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. Unfortunately, more than 60 percent of U.S. adults aren’t meeting those basic guidelines. But while getting into a regular workout routine can seem daunting, you don’t have to become a total fitness freak to get all the benefits of exercise. All it takes is just 20 minutes a day, and any movement that gets your heart pumping will give your blood pressure health a significant boost. Whether you go for a bike ride or out dancing, everything adds up. And consistency is key so be sure to pick activities that you’re interested in and enjoy doing. That way you’ll be more likely to stick with them over the long term.
De-Stress. When you’re felling stressed, your heart rate speeds up, your blood vessels tighten, and your BP goes up. These reactions are helpful in those “fight or flight” moments when your body needs a temporary jolt to help you get through a stressful situation. But if stress becomes chronic, your blood pressure can remain high for dangerously long periods. Eventually, that can take a serious toll on your cardiovascular health.9 10 That’s why it’s important to take a step back and unwind whenever the world gets overwhelming. So next time the pressures of life are too much, try a stress-management technique like breathing exercises or mindful meditation to help you cope. To get into the habit, start with five minutes a day and work your way up from there.
Supplements. If you’re looking for additional support, reinforcing your BP health with a few targeted supplements can be a smart move. One supplement in particular, Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE), has been scientifically shown to lower blood pressure while improving arterial stiffness, inflammation, and gut microbial composition. In a 2018 study, participants with uncontrolled hypertension who were given a daily AGE supplement for 12 weeks saw a significant drop in both systolic and diastolic pressure compared to those who got the placebo.11 Better still, a 2021 clinical trial that paired AGE supplementation with regular exercise enhanced the supplement’s blood pressure-lowering effects even further.12
But AGE isn’t the only supplement that can lower pressure. Research suggest that two additional nutrients, nattokinase and l-theanine, may also have a positive effect on preventing and treating hypertension. Fortunately, you can get all three in one convenient supplement with Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract Formula 109.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can have significant health consequences. If you are among the growing group of Americans prone to hypertension due to lifestyles habits or a family history, it’s critical to get a handle on your blood pressure levels as early as possible. Following these strategies can reverse an uptick in BP and keep your heart healthy for years to come. But as always, be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise or supplement routine, especially if you’re already taking medications to control your blood pressure.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hypertension Cascade: Hypertension Prevalence, Treatment and Control Estimates Among U.S. Adults Aged 18 Years and Older Applying the Criteria from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association’s 2017 Hypertension Guideline—NHANES 2015–2018. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2021. Accessed March 12, 2021.
- SPRINT Research Group. A Randomized Trial of Intensive versus Standard Blood-Pressure Control. N Engl J Med. 2015 Nov 26;373(22):2103-16.
- SPRINT MIND Investigators for the SPRINT Research Group. Effect of Intensive vs Standard Blood Pressure Control on Probable Dementia: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019 Feb 12;321(6):553-561.
- Pugh, D. Management of Hypertension in Chronic Kidney Disease. Drugs. 79, 365–379 (2019).
- Neter JE. Influence of Weight Reduction on Blood Pressure. Hypertension. 2003;42:878–884.
- Bercea, C-I. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and hypertension: a review of vasodilatory mechanisms of docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Br J Pharmacol. 2021; 178: 860– 877.
- Wang, Y. Effects of chronic consumption of specific fruit (berries, citrus and cherries) on CVD risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Eur J Nutr. 60, 615–639 (2021).
- Bondonno, CP. Vegetable nitrate intake, blood pressure and incident cardiovascular disease: Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study. Eur J Epidemiol. 36, 813–825 (2021).
- Tanja GM. Effects of Work Stress on Ambulatory Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, and Heart Rate Variability. Hypertension. 2000;35:880–886.
- Hughes, BM. Study, examinations, and stress: blood pressure assessments in college students. Educational Review. (2205) 57:1, 21-36.
- Ried K. The Effect of Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract on Gut Microbiota, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Markers in Hypertensives: The GarGIC Trial. Frontiers in Nutrition. Vol. 5, 2018.
- Towhidi F. Effect of Eight Weeks of Aerobic Exercise and Garlic Extract Use on the Blood Pressure, Fat Percentage, and Lipid Profile of Patients with Hypertension. J Clin Res Paramed Sci. 2021;10(1):e101897.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.