Medication is just one of many ways you can manage high blood pressure. Minor life tweaks like exercising and cutting out bad foods can do you good. That’s why we’re sharing five simple ways to lower your blood pressure.
If you’re taking blood pressure medication, you may be able to save using GoodRx, our sponsor. Tap or click here for the scoop on a money-saving trick your health insurance company doesn’t want you to know about. Later on, we’ll show you how to find deals on blood pressure meds using GoodRx.
For now, here are a few lifestyle changes that can bring your numbers down. Some advice is common sense, like cutting cigarettes and coffee out of your life. Some of the other methods may surprise you.
1. Eat healthy foods
Poor food choices can increase your risk of high blood pressure, according to My HealtheVet. If you read this and worry about having to throw out everything in your refrigerator, here’s some good news. You don’t have to overhaul your whole lifestyle — just make a few changes to the foods you eat and how you cook.
Follow the DASH eating plan, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It recommends eating vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. When it comes to dairy, choose fat-free or low-fat products.
The DASH eating plan also points you towards nuts, beans, fish, poultry and vegetable oils. To follow the program, limit fatty meats, full-fat dairy products and tropical oils. (We get it: Coconut oil is excellent for cooking. Not so great for your blood pressure, though.)
Do you love sweets? You can still have them but limit your consumption. This ranges from cookies to sugary drinks like soda or piña coladas. Check out this handy flyer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. It gives you a good overview of the minor changes you can make.
Following a heart-healthy diet doesn’t have to be complicated. It just requires a bit of restraint — and a bit of extra thought when you’re picking up groceries. Remember that old bit of timeless wisdom: Never do your grocery shopping on an empty stomach!
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2. Create an easy exercise routine
Scientists, researchers and other experts have long recommended exercise as a way to reduce blood pressure. Remember: We aren’t just talking about running, biking and other demanding activities. Exercise can be as simple as a brisk walk around the neighborhood or a fun swim in the pool.
The key is to keep your body moving. Physical inactivity can exacerbate existing issues. The National Library of Medicine reports that exercise is linked to “immediate significant reductions in systolic blood pressure.” That reduction can last for almost 24 hours.
Don’t exercise once in a blue moon, though. Regular physical activity can lower your risk of cardiovascular issues. Overall, it’s an undeniably effective way to lower your blood pressure.
3. Avoid alcohol
If you drink alcohol too often or too much, you could be hurting yourself. According to the Mayo Clinic, excessive drinking raises your blood pressure. It’s not a minor lift, either: Too much alcohol can bring your blood pressure to completely unhealthy levels.
This doesn’t mean you have to go cold turkey. Just cut down if you’re a binge drinker. The definition depends on your sex: To be a binge drinker, a man would have to down more than five drinks in two hours. The standards for women are a little lower. They’re binge drinkers if they down four or more drinks in two hours.
It’s okay to be a moderate drinker. But if you want to improve your health, it’s best to put the spirits down for good. You can even trade it in for some relaxing tea. Tap or click here for 15 smart products that can help you kick your bad habits in 2022.
If you’ve never meditated before, getting into the right mindset can be challenging. You won’t want to go back once you let yourself breathe and focus on the moment. Meditation reduces stress, and as you might know, chronic stress can be a huge contributor to high blood pressure.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says meditation can be helpful when you’re trying to lower blood pressure.
For the most part, meditation is safe. Just make sure you aren’t challenging your body with movement meditation. You can keep it simple by sitting down, closing your eyes and calming your mind.
Focusing on the moment and practicing gratitude can help put your stressors into perspective. Zooming out and thinking of the bigger picture can help you realize how small some of your issues are in the grand scheme of things. Tap or click here for Kim’s take on meditation apps.
5. If you’re happy and you know it… let it show!
Don’t hold yourself back. Laughter is the best medicine. It can improve your mental health, too. That’s why Benefits.gov says you should laugh and smile as much as possible.
Even if your schedule is busy, carve out time to visit with friends and family. Don’t hold yourself back, either: Laugh and smile often, even if other people say you have a weird laugh. (Am I speaking from experience? Perhaps.)
The American Heart Association says you’re more likely to have high blood pressure or a stroke if you have high-stress levels. That’s why it’s essential to put time and effort into maintaining your mental health. Getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night can do you good.
Now that you learned a few medication-free ways to lower blood pressure, a tech trick can help when picking up your prescriptions. It’s saved Kim a ton of cash. It’s a great way to save money on the medications you need.
How to check the costs of your blood pressure meds
As we mentioned earlier, GoodRx is a great way to save cash on any prescription you need. Kim saved around $400 on cream thanks to a helpful pharmacist who told her to put away her insurance card and try a coupon instead. Sometimes, paying out of pocket is cheaper than paying with insurance.
To show you how this site can help, let’s look up Diovan on GoodRx.com.
Click on the medicine and you’re taken to an information page that explains what the drug is and how to find it. You’ll see a list of pharmacies and their prices. This isn’t useful yet since you haven’t put your address in.
You’ll get the most accurate prices once you click View more local pharmacies at the bottom of the page. You’ll have to do a bit of scrolling.
Click View more local pharmacies and you get a pop-up box prompting you to enter your city or ZIP code. It looks like this:
In this example, I entered a ZIP code. Select Set location once you’re done. Just like that, you’ll see the prices you have to pay for this medication at different pharmacies near you.
I learned that I’d have to pay $37.37 at CVS but only $12.62 at Albertsons. Bottom line: It all comes down to location, location, location. So save this tool the next time you need to pick up some meds; it can put a lot of money back into your pocket.