High Blood Pressure is called the silent killer because one can have a high blood pressure and lead a pretty normal life, it doesn't have great warning signs. For this reason, everyone should have their blood pressure checked regularly. Most grocery stores now offer a little station you can sit, relax and get it read. Try to do it at the same time of day every time. Don't do it after strenuous workout out or with caffeine in your system.
Blood pressure is the measure of systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Systolic is how much pressure it takes to pump the blood when the heart muscle contracts. Diastolic is how much pressure is present when the heart is relaxed. Generally speaking 120/80 is considered normal. 130/90 is prehypertensive and 140/100 or higher is Hypertensive.
Hypertension can lead to a lot of different issue so it's very important to get this addressed. One is essentially asked the heart to work harder all the time. This can lead to a heart attack. You are pushing it harder through vessels, the vessels essentially are not as pliable. This can lead to strokes or aneurisms. Other organs are also at risk. One that is commonly damaged with uncontrolled HBP is the kidneys. The kidneys filter the blood through lots of small arteries that lead to the nephron. These arteries can became narrow, harden and weaken. This becomes a negative feedback loop and this will cause an increase in BP as well.
1. Start getting a few relaxing walks in per day. Then shoot for a minimum of 20 minutes. Heart rate should be elevated but you should be able to hold a conversation without losing breath.
1a. Once walking has been established, start going slightly more brisk walk for a goal of 30 minutes. Stairs make an excellent choice for training the bigger leg muscles. Biking is excellent low impact choice. Weights can be beneficial, just don't hold the breath. The ultimate goal is 150 min of exercise a week. It takes 1-3 months to drop systolic pressure up to 10 points. It only lasts for as long as exercise stays apart of your daily life.
2. Work your grip strength. This has been shown to be a really cool exercise with proven results. It was discovered by fighter pilots in the 60's. Those that gripped the control the strongest pumped more blood to the brain and passed out less during high G forces. Find a gripper that you can grip that you would consider medium in difficulty. You want to be able to hold the grip in the closed position for 5 seconds. Relax for 10 seconds. Get as many reps as you can for 2 minutes. Repeat the other hand. It has been shown to drop the diastolic by up to 15 points. (quite large) It seems to work because it makes the walls of the carotid artery and other blood vessels more pliable.
3. Electrolyte balance. I would recommend getting blood work done to see your potassium and sodium balance. The standard advice of lowering sodium is not a given. It is known now that it is the balance of sodium/potasium that is crucial to heart health. Most sodium isn't from table salt added to food but is snuck in prepackaged foods. Most potassium comes from fresh fruits and vegetables, so the advice of cut out food that comes in a box or package and eat more fruits and vegetable is good advice.
4. Drink lots of water, hydrate like it's medicine. Dehydration can raise high blood pressure. Your body will hold onto sodium more. If you find you are never thirsty for your bodyweight, perhaps upping your protein will be of value. Shooting for a minimum of 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces.
5. Maximize Nitric Oxide. NO is a key signaling molecule throughout the body. It is produced by the endothelial cells in the arteries and acts to relax the arterial walls. It is produced when we exercise. (Step 1) It is only available for a few seconds after it is produced, so we are constantly making it. Exercise/Food/Supplement for Nitric oxide production.
6. Supplement. Garlic and Other Nitric Oxide supplements. Garlic has a strong backing as a viable option for reducing HBP up to 10%. Not eating it raw but supplementing it. You need the allicin in the garlic. It seems to work by stimulating the production of NO. Some companies are making specific NO supplements. I'm currently testing out the APEX Nitric Oxide and will report on it in a few months.
7. Add specific foods to your diet. The amino acids L- arginine and L-citruline are crucial in the formation of Nitric Oxide. Turkey and pumpkin seeds are two of the highest suggest sources of arginine. Walnuts are an excellent source for arginine and has been studied on its own to lower blood pressure. Watermelon, cucumber and other melons are great sources of citruline. Beets are being studied a ton lately for its high level of nitrate. Seems to be enough research to suggest adding them to the diet will be of benefit. Beet, Watermelon, cucumber, walnut, honey (a little research for HBP) sounds like a nice NO shake to me!
7. Be around animals. Going to zoos or being around dogs, petting dogs. It seems odd, but they have measured BP in zoos and it's lower. Then have measured it petting dogs and it's lower. We are meant to be around animals in my opinion.
8. Volunteer. People that volunteer tend to have a LBP then those that don't. Feel good perhaps? I'd bet volunteering at an animal shelter would be quite beneficial for BP.
9. Become a Nasal Breather. By breathing through the nose you are able to capture more Nitric Oxide with each breath from the sinus cavities. Breathing through the mouth doesn't do this. It takes dedicated practice and it can be used as almost a meditative practice. Which coincidentally, also has been shown to lower blood pressure. Taking a few minutes a few times a day and practice nasal breathing. I think walking is a great place to do this. It keeps the walk at an aerobic level and you get to practice only inhaling through the nose.
10. Drink less alcohol and don't smoke. The uptake of one glass for women and 2 for men seem to raise the blood pressure slightly. Smoking is just bad for everything related to health.
All of these options will have individual results. Not one by itself will probably bring you down into the normal range, but all of them combined and working them into your lifestyle will go a big way into helping control them and perhaps need less medication or perhaps get off or not get on any. Always have a way to monitor your blood pressure if you are on a medication and start to implement these lifestyle changes as it will hopefully require different dosages.