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Lowering blood pressure: what helps?

High blood pressure is one of the most widespread chronic diseases. Around 20 to 30 million people in Germany have high blood pressure. Many of them take antihypertensive medication. In many cases, however, high blood pressure can be lowered by natural means so that, in the best case scenario, those affected no longer need to take medication.

  1. Blood pressure: what is it?
  2. Blood pressure: what values are normal?
  3. Why should you lower your blood pressure?
  4. What lowers blood pressure?
  5. High blood pressure: Lowering blood pressure naturally - what natural remedies are there? Lowering blood pressure - what you should avoid!

Blood pressure: what is it?

Our heart pumps blood through the body, more precisely into the blood vessels, which then transport the blood to all organs. Blood pressure is the pressure at which the heart pumps the blood through the blood vessels. It is measured in mmHg (millimetres of mercury) and comprises two values: the first value of the blood pressure measurement is referred to as the systolic blood pressure value. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure that arises in the blood vessels when the heart muscle contracts and pumps oxygen-rich blood into the vessels. Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure on the blood vessels when the heart muscle relaxes again. It is the second lower value of the blood pressure measurement.

Blood pressure: what values are normal?

According to the guidelines of the German Hypertension League, a blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg is considered normal for adult women and men. If the blood pressure is between 130/85 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, it is a little too high, but still within the normal range. Only from a value of 140/90 mmHg is it considered high blood pressure.

Interesting fact: Around half of women and almost three quarters of men in Germany have suboptimal (= high normal) blood pressure values! High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a disease of the vascular system in which blood pressure levels are permanently too high. Around 10% of cases of hypertension are due to renal and hormonal disorders and are therefore the result of an existing disease (secondary hypertension). In all other cases (approx. 90 %), no organic cause can be identified. This is referred to as primary hypertension. The risk of developing high blood pressure increases significantly with advancing age.

High blood pressure is divided into several degrees of severity. The individual values are shown in the table below.

 

systolic (mmHg)

diastolic (mmHg)

normal

120

80

high normal

130-139

85-89

mild hypertension (grade 1)

140-159

90-99

Moderately severe hypertension (grade 2)

160-179

100- 109

severe hypertension (grade 3)

≥ 180

≥ 110



Note: There are smooth transitions between the individual degrees of severity. Whether therapy is necessary even for a slightly elevated blood pressure depends on the state of health of the individual patient!

Why should you lower your blood pressure?

Over the years, high blood pressure can damage important organs, including the heart, blood vessels, brain and kidneys. Hypertension is therefore a significant risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. In Germany, cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death, accounting for almost 40% of all deaths. In addition, high blood pressure is one of the four components of metabolic syndrome, which also includes (abdominal) obesity, elevated blood sugar levels and blood lipid levels. Metabolic syndrome is in turn a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

The most important goal in the treatment of high blood pressure is therefore to permanently reduce blood pressure to a normal level in order to prevent life-threatening diseases such as heart attacks or strokes.

What lowers blood pressure?

As already mentioned, in around 90% of people with high blood pressure, no specific cause or disease can be found for high blood pressure. Many of those affected can therefore lower their blood pressure by changing their lifestyle. This is because one of the most effective remedies for high blood pressure is a healthy lifestyle. For example, people with mild hypertension can reduce their blood pressure levels to normal and people with a severe form of hypertension need to take less medication.

The use of antihypertensive medication is recommended from blood pressure values of 140/90 mmHg. Especially if the blood pressure could not be lowered sufficiently with lifestyle optimization. The individual medications or active ingredients are often administered in combination, as the effects of the various medications complement each other perfectly. It is important that the medication is taken regularly, as this is the only way to achieve a normal blood pressure in the long term.

High blood pressure: lowering blood pressure naturally - what natural remedies are there? If you look at the factors that lead to high blood pressure, you will quickly understand why it is worth changing your lifestyle. In addition to increasing age and genetic predisposition, it is our lifestyle in particular that has a significant influence on blood pressure.

The most important factors of a healthy lifestyle include

  • Healthy diet
  • Minimize table salt
  • Supplement arginine and citrulline
  • Weight loss in case of obesity
  • Regular exercise and sporting activity
  • Abstaining from nicotine
  • Moderate alcohol consumption
  • Avoid stress

Make sure you eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, wholegrain products and pulses and low in processed and animal products, sugar and sweetened drinks is the best way to prevent high blood pressure.

Scientists have found that vegans and vegetarians generally have lower blood pressure than meat eaters. The systolic values are 6.9 mmHg and the diastolic values 4.7 mmHg lower than the blood pressure values of meat eaters.

You can find out about the other benefits of a plant-based diet in our blog post "10 reasons for a vegan lifestyle".

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Reduce your salt consumption

The sodium contained in table salt affects our fluid balance and therefore also our blood pressure. Anyone suffering from high blood pressure should therefore eat as little salt as possible. A value of up to 6 g is given for the daily intake of table salt. 6 g of table salt is roughly equivalent to one teaspoon. But this is not so easy to achieve: In Germany, around 70% of women and around 80% of men consume more than 6 g of table salt per day. For 39% of women and 50% of men, the daily salt intake is even more than 10 g!

How do you reach the 6 g of salt per day? Table salt, which we add to our food by adding and resalting, only accounts for a minimal amount of our daily salt intake. The largest amount is added via processed products in particular. For example, there is often more salt in a ready-made pizza than should be eaten throughout the day. Salt is also mainly hidden in animal products such as meat, sausage and cheese, as well as bread.

If you want to reduce your salt intake, you should therefore focus on fresh and unprocessed foods, consume fewer animal products and season your food with fresh herbs.

You can find out more about salt in the blog post "Salt - really so harmful?"

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Supplementing arginine and citrulline

The two amino acids have a vasodilatory effect, which is caused by the formation of nitric oxide. Both substances therefore have an influence on the blood flow in our body and the oxygen supply in our blood vessels. Studies therefore show that both arginine and citrulline can reduce elevated blood pressure via vasodilation. Read more in the blog post "L-arginine has a vasodilating effect".

You can find the two products and a combination of both amino acids here.

Reduce excess weight

Being overweight is one of the most significant risk factors for high blood pressure. This is because only around one in five people who are overweight have blood pressure within the normal range. This means that with every kilogram you lose, your blood pressure values also improve. Elevated blood pressure values can be reduced by 1 to 2 mmHg if you lose one kilogram of body weight.

With significant weight loss, medication can even be reduced or even completely discontinued. However, losing weight also has other positive effects: Blood sugar and blood lipid levels also improve.

You can also find out how to get rid of harmful belly fat in our blog post "How do you get rid of harmful belly fat?"

Exercise and sporting activities

Physical activity is extremely important for people with high blood pressure. In particular, people who have not previously exercised much can significantly reduce their blood pressure levels if they exercise regularly. Endurance sports such as swimming, jogging, walking or cycling have the best blood pressure-lowering effect. But even regular walks can lower blood pressure. Ideally, those affected should exercise at least 5 times a week for around 30 minutes. In studies, this lowered blood pressure by an average of 7 mmHg systolic and 5 mmHg diastolic.

Reducing stress lowers high blood pressure

If you are constantly under pressure, you shouldn't be surprised if your blood pressure rises. Reducing stress has been proven to help regulate blood pressure levels. Stress can manifest itself in any way: Whether it's stress at work, in our private lives or emotional stress caused by arguments, worries and overwork - all of these can have a negative impact on our health and affect our blood pressure, among other things. Regular breaks or relaxation in the form of meditation and yoga often help to give yourself a little time out. Too little sleep can also affect blood pressure. Therefore, about 7-8 hours of sleep per night should be the norm.

Lowering blood pressure - what you should avoid

Avoidable factors for high blood pressure include too little exercise, an unhealthy diet with excessive salt consumption, obesity, stress, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

So if you avoid the factors mentioned, you can certainly get your blood pressure under control without taking medication or prevent it from getting that far in the first place.

Sources:
https://www.dge.de/fileadmin/public/doc/ws/ll-kh/06-Hypertonie-DGE-Leitlinie-KH.pdf
https://www.dge.de/fileadmin/public/doc/pm/2016/DGE-Pressemeldung-aktuell-03-2016-Speisesalz.pdf
https://www.dge.de/wissenschaft/faqs/salz/#c2597
https://www.herzstiftung.de/ihre-herzgesundheit/gesund-bleiben/bluthochdruck/blutdruck-senken
https://www.hochdruckliga.de/fileadmin/downloads/patienten/leitfaden/TW-Patientenleitlinien2019-Internet.pdf