Decrease Weight, if you are overweight.
Maintained weight loss of as little as 11 pounds, on average, can reduce your systolic blood pressure (SBP) by 4.4 mmHg and diastolic by 3.6 mmHg (as much as some medications).
Each weight loss of 22 pounds can reduce SBP by 5-20 mmHg. So, if you are 70 pounds overweight, your SBP could decrease by 15-60 mmHg if you lose 66 pounds.
EAT. MOVE. RELAX. recommendations provide suggestions that have been shown to lower blood pressure independent of weight loss. Following the suggestions often leads to weight loss as well, providing a further benefit in reducing weight loss. If weight loss is one of your goals to lower your blood pressure, a dietary consultant can help you follow a diet consistent with both lowering your blood pressure and weight loss.
Decrease alcohol, if you drink more than a small amount.
Reduce your alcohol consumption to less than 2 drinks a day if you are a man and less than 1 drink a day if you are a woman or have a smaller body size.
If you are over 65 years old, have diabetes, and/or have chronic kidney disease, NO alcohol is your best strategy if you are already diagnosed with hypertension.
If you have hypertension and don’t drink alcohol, don’t start because you hear that it can lower blood pressure.
Some studies have shown a decrease in blood pressure at the recommended level. However, there is not much doubt that drinking more than the recommended amount raises blood pressure over time. In fact, it can raise SBP by 3 mmHg for every drink. Someone who regularly consumes 5 drinks a day will raise their SBP by 15 mmHg over time.
Even more concerning is the rapid blood pressure change and spiking that occurs. Often, SBP will initially drop, then will spike higher than the average blood pressure. This is one of the reasons that heavy alcohol consumption is associated with higher stroke incidence. Drinking your of your alcohol at one time during the week (10 drinks for men, 5 for women) will cause this type of spiking, even if your overall consumption is low. So the recommendation is not an average for a month or even a week, the daily limit is important.
Reducing alcohol may decrease your blood pressure only by a couple points (fewer than it increases it), but it will also keep the amount of change blood pressure change lower and keep your blood pressure from spiking as high. It will also stop the gradual increase of blood pressure over time that is due to alcohol.
EAT. MOVE. RELAX. recommendations will help support you through your efforts to decrease alcohol consumption and may make the transition easier through improving your nutrition, providing a new focus, providing activity and providing alternative means of stress reduction. For some people, awareness that lowering their alcohol is important in lowering and controlling their blood pressure is enough to stop. Others may need more assistance. If you have a hard limiting your alcohol intake, there are many resources available to help, including your doctor (s), Alcohol Anonymous, community resources, and treatment centers.
Stop Smoking / Tobacco Use, if you use tobacco products.
Stop smoking or using tobacco products. No surprise. The same advice that is given for almost all health conditions applies here as well.
Smoking raises blood pressure both immediately and over time by affecting the sympathetic nervous system, blood chemistry, and impairment of the sensors that regulate blood pressure.
Stopping smoking will decrease the spiking that occurs immediately following smoking or tobacco chewing. Blood pressure spiking can cause strokes. However, it is unlikely that you will notice a drop in your overall blood pressure by stopping. You will prevent the continual increase that happens over time with smoking.
EAT. MOVE. RELAX. recommendations will help support you through your efforts stop smoking and may make the transition easier through improving your nutrition, providing a new focus, providing activity and providing alternative means of stress reduction. Quitting smoking is challenging for many people and often the people who are successful have “quit” before. There are many different approaches and recommendations in how to quit. Resources include your doctor (s), special classes, community resources, and counseling services.