If you want to live a long and healthy life there is one key metric you need to check regularly; your blood pressure.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension affects over 40% of adults over the age of 25 and is estimated to be responsible for 12.8% of recorded deaths worldwide according to the World Health Organisation.
In the UK high blood pressure affects more than 1 in 4 adults but the biggest issue is that a shocking one third are estimated to be unaware of their condition. Health professionals call it the “the silent killer” because the problem with hypertension is that it often doesn’t show any symptoms until it’s too late…
Left undetected or uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to a sudden stroke, heart attack as well as heart failure, kidney failure, vision loss, sexual dysfunction, angina and peripheral artery disease over time.
In this article we will look at how you can check your blood pressure from the comfort of your home, look at the most frequent causes of hypertension and explore the most effective natural methods for lowering your blood pressure for optimal health.
How to check your blood pressure
(infographic and table courtesy of the American Heart Foundation)
Your blood pressure is read as a combination of systolic pressure (blood force while the heart is beating) and diastolic pressure (blood force when the heart is at rest).
Measuring your blood pressure is easy and you can do it from the comfort of your own home without the intervention of a doctor with a handheld sphygmomanometer:
- Rest in a chair for at least 5 minutes with your left and right arms resting comfortably on a flat surface at heart level, sit calmly and don’t talk.
- Then place the bottom of the cuff of the sphygmomanometer above the bend of the left elbow and take at least two readings 1 minute apart.
For accurate readings, schedule reading at the same time and before taking any medications, consuming any caffeinated beverages or performing any physical exercises. You can also record your readings in the evening before dinner. Record all your results for future reference.
If you don’t have high blood pressure, a quarterly or monthly reading should be sufficient. But if your blood pressure is elevated daily readings can help monitor your condition and provide an early warning should it escalate.
Don’t hesitate to schedule a visit with your doctor if your levels are elevated for further checks.
What can cause elevated blood pressure?
Before we look at the most effective natural ways to lower blood pressure lets first look at the most frequent causes of hypertension and what you can do to limit their impact.
Age – Your risk for high blood pressure can increase with age, it is therefore recommended to check your blood pressure more frequently when you reach 45
Being overweight or obese – Carrying extra weight increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This also puts extra strain on your heart and the circulatory system promoting higher blood pressure.
Alcohol – A study of 83,947 patients by the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute found that patients who drank three or more drinks a day had a substantially higher prevalence of pressures over 160/95 mm Hg.
A sub-optimal diet – A diet which is high in sugar, salt, processed foods, high GI carbohydrates and refined grains can lead to insulin and leptin resistance , which in turn causes your blood pressure to increase.
Another side effect of a sub-optimal diet and drinking too much alcohol is elevated uric acid levels which are significantly associated with higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
A sedentary lifestyle – Lack of physical activity has been correlated to a higher incidence of blood pressure.
Your environment – PM2.5 pollution has been associated with a 6 mm Hg increase in diastolic blood pressure! Another factor to look out for is lead and heavy metals exposure which may also have a negative effect on blood pressure.
How to lower blood pressure naturally
Now you know what causes high blood pressure, let’s look at the most effective natural ways to lower blood pressure.
More movement + daily exercise
According to Joan Vernikos, the former director of NASA’s life science division, finding ways to move throughout the day is key to warding off obesity, and metabolic diseases like high blood pressure.
Plus adding daily moderate exercise for 30-45 minutes has been found to lower blood pressure by up to 16/11 mm Hg.
Upgrade the Mediterranean & DASH diet
The Mediterranean and DASH diets are low in salt, packed with fresh vegetables as well as healthy protein. The Mediterranean diet is especially good for its high Omega 3 fats. But you can get even better results by cutting out bread, grain-based foods, high GI carbohydrates, and vegetable oils from these for optimal results.
Bulletproof your Omega 3 balance
Omega 3 deficiency is the sixth biggest killer causing over 96,000 deaths a year in the US alone. Optimising your Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio can help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, as well as lower chances of heart attack or stroke.
Antarctic Krill Oil is an excellent choice to supplement your EPA and DHA Omega 3 fatty acids, as it also contains Astaxanthin which makes it 48 more potent than fish oils in terms of antioxidant strength.
Take advantage of Nitrate rich Beetroot
Beetroot is one of the richest sources of naturally occurring nitrates, which are converted into nitric oxide by your body.
A review of 16 of studies testing the effectiveness of beetroot and inorganic nitrate found consumption associated with a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure.
Take advantage of the prized health benefits of beetroot and tart Montmorency cherries with our highly concentrated Montmorency Cherry Complex supplement.
Are you consuming enough Magnesium?
Magnesium deficiency may cause an increase of blood pressure. A recent study found 368mg/day of magnesium lowered blood pressure by 2/1.78 mm Hg. Beans, nuts and green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of magnesium.
Boost your Potassium intake
Potassium seems to lower the impact of sodium and appears to help ease the tension in your blood vessels according to the Heart Foundation. A recent meta-analysis found Potassium supplementation linked to an average reduction of 3/-1.97 mm Hg!
Great sources of potassium include avocado (974mg), banana (420mg), sweet potato (475mg) and apricots (259mg).
Supplement with CoQ10
CoQ10 (short for Coenzyme Q10) is an essential antioxidant nutrient which is created in the body with a wide range of benefits including heart health and blood pressure regulation. The problem is that our natural production of CoQ10 declines with age, at a time we need it most.
A meta-analysis found that 75–360 mg/day of CoQ10 in supplement format was associated with an up to 17/10 mm Hg improvement in blood pressure without significant side effects.
Whilst you should not try and treat high blood pressure by yourself, and should always consult a doctor to assess and monitor your condition, these natural interventions can have a significant impact, especially when combined together (without the side effects commonly associated with prescription medication).
 Health Survey for England 2003. Department of Health publication available at www.dh.gov.uk
Relationship between uric acid and blood pressure in different age groups
Acute Blood Pressure Responses in Healthy Adults During Controlled Air Pollution Exposures
ACTIVITY ON BLOOD-PRESSURE AND HAEMODYNAMICS IN ESSENTIAL HYPERTENSION