More than 30 percent of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Untreated high blood pressure can cause long-term damage to the kidneys, heart, brain and eyes. Although there are many prescription medications for the treatment of high blood pressure, there are some natural remedies that can help reduce the risk of long-term organ damage.
About Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is measured by two numbers in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and is considered to be normal when 120/80 or lower. The systolic blood pressure is the higher number, which shows the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart is beating. Diastolic blood pressure, the lower number, shows the pressure when the heart is between beats. People over the age of 65 are more likely to develop isolated systolic hypertension (ISH). This is a condition where the systolic blood pressure is high (over 140) but the diastolic blood pressure remains normal (below 90).
High blood pressure often does not have symptoms, but you may experience chronic headaches, dizziness and visual disturbances. Blood pressure should be regularly monitored by your physician; it can also be easily monitored at home using an automated blood-pressure cuff.
Both your diet and dietary supplements can play a major role in blood-pressure reduction. Coenzyme Q is a dietary supplement widely used for its tissue-protecting abilities. It is also thought to increase tissue oxygen supply and has been effectively used to reduce systolic blood pressure in patients with ISH. Essential fatty acids such as omega-3, present in many fish oils, have been proved to increase cardiovascular health. Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet can be increased by eating more cold-water fish—including salmon—or by taking supplements such as flaxseed or fish oil. Garlic is thought to reduce blood pressure and provide cardiovascular support; it can be eaten in food or taken as a capsule. Ginseng and ginkgo biloba are both thought to be mild vasodilators and may help to lower blood pressure.
Coenzyme Q, omega-3 and garlic supplements can be purchased at most large grocery stores, drugstores and at health-food stores. Ginseng and ginkgo supplements can be bought at health-food stores or specialty markets such as Whole Foods.
There are several lifestyle changes that can help reduce systolic blood pressure. Stimulants such as caffeine from coffee, sodas or tea can raise blood pressure, as can cigarette smoking. Stopping these habits is important for long-term cardiovascular health. Obesity is also a known contributor to high blood pressure, and losing weight will reduce long-term damage to many body organs. Too much salt or sodium can lead to water retention, which can raise blood pressure.
Psychological stress and tension can also cause your blood pressure to skyrocket. Practice stress reduction through activities such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation or massage therapy. Moderate exercise and proper sleep habits are also essential in helping to promote cardiovascular health and keep blood pressure as low as possible through natural means.