How To Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure affects more than 1 in 3 people worldwide and is a major cause of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure. This film, made in association with the Blood Pressure Association, will show you how you can lower your blood pressure.
Step 1: Medication
Depending on your blood pressure level and whether any lifestyle changes that you have made have sufficiently lowered your blood pressure,
your doctor may prescribe medication.
It might take a little time to find the right medication or more likely the best combination of medicines for you.
Remember to take your medication and do not stop taking it unless your doctor tells you to. If you feel unwell or experience side effects, talk to your doctor.
You'll find more information on blood pressure medications and how they work on VideoJug.
Medication is just one weapon in a battle against high blood pressure.
Lifestyle changes are also essential and may also help medication to work more effectively.
Step 2: Weight
The more you weigh, the higher your blood pressure is likely to be.
Use a body mass index chart to monitor your weight.
Extra weight centred around the waist area is a particularly strong indication that your weight is a cause of your high blood pressure.
The systolic or top blood pressure reading can go down by as much as 5-10 mmHg per 10kg (22lb) lost.
If you are overweight, you are also likely to be unfit.
Step 3: Exercise
A fit heart pumps blood around the body with ease and therefore at a lower pressure. Research shows that after ten weeks of regular exercise, the diastolic or lower number in your blood pressure reading can be lowered by between 4 and 9 mmHg.
Start off slowly and aim towards 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, 5 times a week. This is anything with a continuous motion, so walking, swimming, cycling - anything that gently increases the heart rate.
Until your blood pressure is under control avoid anaerobic exercise - short bursts of great exertion which cause a rapid increase in heart rate, like weightlifting or sprinting.
If you are not used to exercising it can be a good idea to consult your doctor before you embark on a new exercise routine.
Step 4: Diet
Different types of food can lower or raise blood pressure. The BPA recommends that you have between 7 and 9 portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
A portion is 80g of fresh, frozen, raw or canned vegetables, not including any parts that you don't eat. These are low in salt and fat and are high in vitamins C and E and potassium, which actively help to lower your blood pressure. Bananas, dried fruit, melons, baked potatoes, avocadoes, and orange and tomato juices are particularly high in potassium. Don't add salt or sugar, and if cooking vegetables, lightly steam or bake them to retain their vitamins and minerals.
Fats and particularly saturated fats raise cholesterol which thickens the arteries and so will put you at more risk of heart disease if you have high blood pressure too.
As a general rule cut down on red meat, sausages, pate, bacon, butter, margarine and biscuits. Don't cook with lard or animal fat and beware of products labelled 'low fat' as these can still contain large amounts of fat. Always check food packets for the presence of fat and saturated fat.
Step 5: Salt
Health guidelines state that people should consume no more than 6g of salt per day, but most have more than double this. Excess salt in the diet is often a key reason for high blood pressure levels. Salt is difficult for the kidneys to break down. In response, the body produces more blood to dilute it and this increased blood flow puts more pressure on the arteries and blood vessels. To lower your salt intake, check food packets for their sodium content and steer clear of processed food and ready meals as these contain large amounts of salt. Avoid flavouring your food with salt and try alternatives like lemon, lime, vinegar, wine, herbs and spices instead.
Step 6: Caffeine
As a powerful stimulant, caffeine temporarily raises your heart rate, and in the very sh