The force with which blood pumps from the heart to the arteries is known as blood pressure, and a normal blood pressure reading should be equal to or less than 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, means that the blood is flowing more forcefully through your arteries which increases the pressure on them and in turn causes damage to them.
High blood pressure is a serious health problem that can lead to heart failure, strokes or even kidney failure. If the blood pressure reading is 140/90 mm Hg or above, then it is considered to be high.
Measuring Blood Pressure
When your heart beats, it squeezes blood into the arteries and creates pressure. The systolic pressure or top number, represents the heart’s force of moving the blood into those arteries. Between beats, the heart is at rest while it refills with blood. The diastolic pressure, or bottom number, measures the pressure in the arteries while the heart is resting.
The ideal blood pressure as mentioned above is 120/80 mm Hg, while anything in between 120/80 to 139/89 mm Hg is considered pre-hypertension and hypertension occurs when the reading for blood pressure is anything equal to or above 140/90 mm Hg.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is usually diagnosed when a person has a sustained high blood pressure reading over a period of time. However, there are some early signs of high blood pressure, which may warn you against it, like-
- Sudden dizziness
- Loss of balance
- Flushing of the face
- Nose bleeding
Causes of High Blood Pressure
Despite the exact cause of hypertension being unknown, there are some factors that have been identified as the probable cause of high blood pressure. These include-
- Excess unhealthy diet
- Lack of exercise
- Family history
- Cigarette smoking
- Binge drinking
- High salt intake
- Birth control pills
- Pain relievers
- Kidney disease
- Adrenal disease
Backenting High Blood Pressure
The first step towards preventing high blood pressure is having a healthy lifestyle. You can incorporate the following in your lifestyle for preventing and reducing the risk of high blood pressure-
- Healthy Diet: Eat a healthy diet by limiting the amount of salt and increasing the amount of potassium. Also try to include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
- Regular Exercise: Exercise regularly as it would help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure as well.
- Maintain Healthy Weight: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of high blood pressure so try to maintain a healthy weight. A healthy weight would also reduce the risks of other health problems for you.
- Drink Less Alcohol: Limit the amount of alcohol you drink in a day to 2 drinks per day in case of men and 1 in case of women.
- Quit Smoking: Quit smoking, as it not only raises your blood pressure but also puts you at the risk for cancer, heart attack, and stroke.
- Manage Stress: Try to relax and manage your stress to improve your emotional and physical health.
When to Visit the Doctor
If you notice your blood pressure in the pre-hypertension range then consult your doctor and work with him/her to take steps to bring it down. The treatment plan would include medication, changes in your lifestyle or therapies.
If your blood pressure reading is 130/88 mm Hg or above, or if instead of stabilizing or lowering, your blood pressure keeps rising despite following any of the below remedies, then visit the doctor immediately. Regularly monitor your blood pressure either at home or visit the doctor to monitor if recommended. You would need immediate medical attention in case of constantly high blood pressure reading.
Here are the top 10 food-based home remedies for high blood pressure.
Lemons help decrease rigidity from blood vessels by keeping them soft and pliable. This in turn helps reduce the blood pressure.
In addition, lemons also help lower your chances of heart failure due to their vitamin C content. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals.
- Simply drink a cup of warm water with the juice from half a lemon added to it each morning on an empty stomach. For best results, do not add salt or sugar.
2. Watermelon Seeds
Watermelon seeds contain a compound called cucurbocitrin, which helps widen the blood capillaries. This compound also helps improve kidney functioning, which in turn reduces blood pressure levels and also helps a lot with arthritis.
A pilot study published in American Journal of Hypertension in 2011, reports that watermelon helps lower the blood pressure due to its vasodilatory effect.
- Add 2 teaspoons of gently crushed, dried watermelon seeds to 1 cup of boiled water. Steep it for about an hour, then strain it. Take 4 tablespoons of this water at regular intervals throughout the day.
Several studies have demonstrated blood pressure lowering effects of garlic. Garlic (both raw and cooked) helps control high blood pressure and at the same time reduce cholesterol levels.
Garlic helps relax blood vessels by stimulating the production of nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide.
- Eat 1 or 2 crushed garlic cloves daily. You can simply crush them with your hands. Crushing garlic cloves creates hydrogen sulfide, a compound that promotes good blood flow, removes gas and reduces the pressure on the heart. If you do not like eating raw garlic or if it causes a burning sensation, then take it along with a cup of milk.
- You can also mix 5 or 6 drops of garlic juice in 4 teaspoons of water and take it twice a day.
Eating bananas regularly helps people with high blood pressure control it. Bananas are a rich source of potassium, which lessens the effect of sodium.
So, try to eat 1 or 2 bananas daily. Along with bananas, you can try dried apricots, raisins, currants, orange juice, spinach, zucchini, baked sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and winter squash.
The high level of the phytochemical 3-N-butylphthalide present in celery greatly helps control high blood pressure. Phthalides help relax the muscles in and around arterial walls, thereby creating more space and allowing the blood to flow in without difficulty.
At the same time, it can help reduce the stress hormones that constrict blood vessels, which contributes to high blood pressure.
Try to eat 1 stalk of celery along with a glass of water daily. If you prefer, you can munch on celery throughout the day.
6. Coconut Water
People with high blood pressure must keep their bodies well hydrated. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water every day is a good idea. Coconut water is particularly beneficial for lowering systolic blood pressure.
A 2005 study published in the West Indian Medical Journal found that coconut water, being rich in potassium, magnesium and vitamin C can help decrease systolic blood pressure. Along with coconut water, you can also use coconut oil when cooking.
7. Cayenne Pepper
Those suffering from mild hypertension can benefit from eating cayenne pepper. It facilitates a smooth blood flow by preventing platelets from clumping together and accumulating in the blood.
You can add some cayenne pepper to fruit or vegetable salad, or add a pinch to a bowl of soup. Because cayenne pepper is quite spicy, you need to use only a little bit.
8. Onion Juice
Onions have also been found to lower your blood pressure due to the presence of an antioxidant flavonol called quercetin.
- Try to eat 1 medium-sized, raw onion daily.
- You can also mix ½ teaspoon each of onion juice and honey and take it twice a day for 1 to 2 weeks.
Honey not only reduces pressure from the heart, it also has a calming effect on blood vessels. Hence, it can be quite helpful in reducing high blood pressure.
- Consume 2 teaspoons of honey on an empty stomach each morning.
- You can also mix 1 teaspoon each of honey and ginger juice with 2 teaspoons of cumin seed powder. Eat it twice a day.
- Another effective remedy is to mix basil juice and honey in equal amounts and have it on an empty stomach daily.
10. Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek seeds have shown anti-hypertensive effects[ due to their high potassium and dietary fiber content.
- Boil 1 to 2 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in water for about 2 minutes, and then strain it.
- Put the seeds in a blender and mix it into a paste.
- Eat this paste twice a day, once in the morning on an empty stomach and once in the evening. Follow this remedy for 2 to 3 months to notice a significant improvement in your blood pressure level.
In addition to using these natural remedies as part of treatment for high blood pressure, it is essential to follow your doctor’s medical and dietary advice and go for regular check-ups.
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