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How can I work on lowering my blood pressure without medication?

John Drury  
John Drury, MD, is a cardiologist with the CardioVascular Institute of North Colorado.

Question: How can I work on lowering my blood pressure without medication?

Answer: According to the American Heart Association, more than 76.4 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. High blood pressure typically has no symptoms and if left untreated, can have deadly health consequences.

The number of people with high blood pressure, which leads to heart disease, has risen to an epidemic level. Why? The high amount of salt we consume daily in the foods we choose to eat. High blood pressure is especially dangerous as there are no obvious symptoms. Stress and pre-existing medical conditions along with a high salt intake all contribute to your higher blood pressure.

A proven way to reduce your blood pressure is to decrease the amount of salt in your diet. The medical community’s widely accepted definition of a heart-healthy lifestyle plan is called DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.  This plan was developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to assist in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels without using medications. The program centers on reaching and maintaining a healthy weight by reducing salt intake, increasing regular exercise, stopping smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.

Results from the DASH research from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute showed that following a DASH plan containing 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt per day lowered blood pressure. Following a DASH plan containing 1,500 mg of salt lowered blood pressure even more.

The DASH eating plan is easy to follow and uses common foods available in your local grocery store. The plan is rich with nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, seeds and nuts, plus meats such as fish and poultry while being lower in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. The number of servings you should have depends on your individual, daily calorie needs while factoring in your current activity level. If you take medicine to control high blood pressure, you should keep taking it and consult your doctor before following the DASH eating plan.
Page Last Modified: 02/07/2014
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