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8 tips to lower blood pressure

If you've been told you have high blood pressure, getting this to a healthy level is important to reduce the risk of heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.

Medication is one way a doctor may recommend to manage blood pressure, but lifestyle changes also play an important part. In fact people with blood pressure just above 130/80mmHg may be able to manage it with lifestyle changes alone.

Even if medicine is needed, combining it with a healthier lifestyle is recommended.

Here are eight tips for lowering blood pressure:

Cut down on salt

Salt helps to increase a person's blood pressure, so cutting down on salt can help cut blood pressure numbers too. Aim for no more than 6g (0.2oz) of salt a day. Remember, this isn’t just about salt shaken onto food, but it also means the salt already added to all sorts of food from bread to breakfast cereal.

Healthy diet

As well as cutting salt, aim for a healthy balanced diet that's low in bad fats. The NHS recommends at least 5 portions a day of fruit and veg.

Get more exercise

Keeping active is important for managing blood pressure. The NHS recommends doing at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. This includes cycling or brisk walking. Also, aim for some muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week.

Cut down on alcohol

Most people know drinking too much can affect the liver. It can also cause high blood pressure. Try to stick within the recommended maximum guidelines for alcohol. Men shouldn't regularly drink more than three to four units of alcohol a day. For women, the limits are lower at two to three units a day. The units soon add up. Just one pint of beer or cider is 2.8 units. A 175ml glass of wine is 2.1 units.

Quit smoking

Smoking doesn’t just affect the lungs. Even though smoking doesn’t directly affect blood pressure, like blood pressure it also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Lose weight

If you are overweight or obese, take steps to get to a healthy weight. Body mass index or BMI is the measurement doctors use to check if a person's ratio of height to weight is a healthy one.

Limit caffeine

Blood pressure may be increased by drinking more than four cups of coffee a day. Caffeine is also found in cola, tea and even chocolate.

Relax

Relaxing can help lower blood pressure. Consider taking up yoga, meditation or looking into stress management courses.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on May 31, 2013

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