How to reduce your blood pressure: 6 top tips
Following these tips can help to reduce high blood pressure, or help to control it if you’ve already been diagnosed with the condition.
High blood pressure significantly increases the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
High blood pressure is not usually something that you can feel or notice, and it can go undiagnosed because there are usually no symptoms. Regardless, high blood pressure can lead to kidney damage, stroke or a heart attack. Therefore, it's important you get your blood pressure checked regularly. Check with your GP or nurse how often to get it checked.
1. Regular physical activity
Try to do some moderate-intensity activity every day and build up to at least 150 minutes per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
2. Keep to a healthy weight
"For some people, losing weight is all they need to do to get their blood pressure down to a normal level"
For some people, losing weight is all they need to do to get their blood pressure down to a normal level.
3. Eat a healthy balanced diet
Use the Eatwell plate to guide the proportions you include from each food group. In particular, include a variety of fruit and vegetables.
4. Cut down on salt
"Don’t cook with salt or add any to your food at the table"
Don’t cook with salt or add any to your food at the table, and cut down on processed foods, which contain a lot of salt.
5. Don't drink too much
If you drink alcohol, stick within the recommended limits. No more than 3–4 units a day for men and no more than 2–3 for women.
6. Take your medicines as prescribed
Most people will need to take more than one type of medicine to control their blood pressure. Don’t stop taking your medication without consulting with your GP first.
Understanding your blood pressure
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in your arteries. You need a certain amount of pressure to keep the blood flowing around your body. Your heart pumps blood through the arteries, by contracting and relaxing.
Your blood pressure reading consists of two numbers usually shown as one on top of the other and measured in mmHg (millimetres of mercury). If your blood pressure reading is 120 / 80mmHg your doctor or nurse may refer to it as “120 over 80”.
The first (or top) number represents the highest level that your blood pressure reaches when your heart contracts and pumps blood through your arteries – known as your systolic pressure. The second (or bottom) number represents the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats – your diastolic pressure.
High blood pressure – or hypertension – means that your blood pressure is constantly higher than the recommended level.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, your blood pressure should be below 140/ 90. If you have heart and circulatory disease (such as coronary heart disease or stroke) or diabetes or kidney disease, then your blood pressure should be below 130 / 80.
In England, nearly half of all patients being treated still have uncontrolled blood pressure.