High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a worldwide problem and the leading risk factor for death. With an estimated one billion people diagnosed with high blood pressure throughout the world, it is truly a global problem, on par with tobacco use as a risk for dying. But, there are techniques to help control high blood pressure.
In fact, the blood pressure control rate has improved over the last decade in the United States. Approximately 50 percent of those diagnosed with hypertension are controlling it, and that number could go as high as 85 percent if people followed steps to control their blood pressure. Here are eight effective methods:
- Maintain an active lifestyle and healthy weight.
- Limit salt and sodium consumption.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Restrict alcohol consumption.
- Avoid smoking.
- Reduce consumption of caffeine.
- Limit stress.
- Take medications as directed.
Other blood-pressure-lowering techniques
An expert panel that assessed alternative methods of controlling blood pressure found the following non-invasive techniques to be effective:
- Device-guided slow breathing: This alternative method features a computerized device connected to a sensor belt (worn around the abdomen) and earphones that are plugged into the device. When turned on, the device generates musical patterns (based on the user’s breathing rate), which guide the user to slow his or her breathing rate to fewer than 10 breaths per minute. This method was determined by the panel to be effective in lowering blood pressure when performed for 15-minute sessions four or five times per week. Several varieties are available online.
- Isometric handgrip exercises: This method involves athletic handgrips, which can be purchased at most sporting goods stores. Hold the athletic gripper in one hand and squeeze it for two minutes, then switch hands and repeat the exercise for a total of 15 minutes per day. Over a period of four weeks, according to the panel’s assessment, this method resulted in some of the most impressive reductions in blood pressure.
When practiced consistently, there is good scientific evidence that these alternative techniques can help lower blood pressure when added to a treatment regimen after patients discuss their goals with their doctors.
Take the next step:
- Read about a new study that finds fish tanks can help lower blood pressure.
Dr. Robert D. Brook is associate professor of medicine and a cardiologist at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center. He is also chair of an expert panel that assessed alternative methods of controlling blood pressure.
The University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is the top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.