High blood pressure is a common health problem. People can lower their blood pressure in several ways, including diet, exercise, and blood pressure medication. The time it takes for blood pressure to drop depends on a variety of factors, including:
– the initial level of a person’s blood pressure
– the methods used to lower it
– other individual health factors.
While blood pressure medications work relatively quickly, people usually need to make changes to their diet and lifestyle to maintain their blood pressure over the long term. This article examines how long it takes to lower blood pressure with different methods.
How long does it take ?
Regular exercise can help lower a person’s blood pressure. A doctor who diagnoses high blood pressure, or hypertension, may prescribe one or more medications to help control it and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. These drugs can be diuretics, beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors, alone or in combination. Medications lower blood pressure quickly, usually within days. However, they are not necessarily the best long-term treatment due to their side effects.
Medications can help manage high blood pressure while a person makes changes to their underlying lifestyle that may be causing high blood pressure. Dietary changes can quickly lower blood pressure in many many cases.
A study published in the journal Hypertension reports that people following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet reduced their blood pressure by 1 to 4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) in one week. The same study noted that the reduction of sodium intake gradually lowered blood pressure over 4 weeks. Making consistent, long-term changes to diet and lifestyle can help keep blood pressure within a healthy range.
The following sections look at how to lower blood pressure using various methods.
A healthy diet can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and help lower blood pressure. Conversely, some diets can increase a person’s blood pressure by causing fluid retention or weight gain. Diets high in the following components may increase blood pressure:
– salt or sodium
– saturated fats
– trans fats
A healthy diet includes plenty of heart-healthy foods, including:
– the fruits
– the vegetables
– whole grains
– other fiber-rich foods
– unsaturated fats
Many doctors include diet plans in the treatment of high blood pressure. For example, the DASH diet plan incorporates heart-healthy eating while reducing foods that raise blood pressure. Taking steps to eat a heart-healthy diet is a good way to lower blood pressure. People who find it difficult to change their diet can seek advice from a dietitian.
Exercise is an important factor in reducing a person’s blood pressure. Regular exercise helps prevent and reduce high blood pressure. A study published in the journal Blood Pressure found that regular exercise caused a 3.9% drop in systolic blood pressure and a 4.5% drop in diastolic blood pressure in older adults.
In addition, physical exercise has many health benefits and helps control other risk factors for hypertension, including overweight and obesity. Exercise is not a magic bullet for hypertension , but a lifestyle change. Regular physical exercise is a step towards lowering blood pressure and is best when people integrate it with other factors, such as a healthy diet.
A person’s weight has a direct influence on the heart and circulatory system. Overweight and obesity increase the risk of high blood pressure and put extra strain on the heart. For most people, diet and exercise changes are effective ways to manage weight and reduce these risks. Losing weight the healthy way takes time but has many benefits. To learn more, click here.
Diets high in sodium increase the risk of heart problems, such as high blood pressure. Reducing sodium intake can reduce this risk. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who reduced their sodium intake lowered their blood pressure by 3 to 9 mm Hg.
Smoking is a risk factor for a number of heart diseases, as well as other effects on the body. It can also influence blood pressure both directly and indirectly. Smoking itself increases blood pressure. Each time a person smokes, their blood pressure temporarily increases. In addition, smoking increases the risk of atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries. Atherosclerosis increases the risk other problems, such as heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure accelerates the process of atherosclerosis.
Quitting smoking can help reduce these risks.
Limit alcohol consumption
Alcohol is another risk factor for high blood pressure. A person does not need to eliminate alcohol from their diet to benefit. However, reducing alcohol consumption can significantly lower blood pressure. A 2017 study reported that reducing alcohol consumption in people who drank more than two drinks a day reduced systolic blood pressure by 5.5 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 4 mm. Hg.
Drinking more than two drinks can raise blood pressure.
Stress is another important factor for overall health that can contribute to high blood pressure. A person’s reaction to stress can also influence heart health. For example, some people may turn to alcohol, tobacco, or comfort foods. These factors can increase the risk of high blood pressure.
Finding ways to reduce or eliminate stress can help reduce these factors. Stress reduction techniques include:
– breathing exercises
– movement activities, such as tai chi or qi gong
– yoga or gentle stretching
– other therapies, such as acupuncture or massage
– removal of personal stressors.
Other tips for good heart health can also help reduce stress, such as exercising regularly. Reducing stress is itself part of an overall change for heart health.
Other blood pressure factors
A number of other factors also increase the risk of high blood pressure, including:
– a family history of high blood pressure
– advanced age
– chronic kidney disease
– a sedentary lifestyle
– Sleep Apnea
– high cholesterol
Age and gender also play a role. Men under 64 are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure. After age 65, women are more likely to suffer from hypertension.
High blood pressure increases the risk of other serious heart problems, such as atherosclerosis and heart attack. Direct changes in diet and lifestyle can achieve relatively rapid reductions in blood pressure. In some cases, doctors may recommend medications to help keep blood pressure at an acceptable level while the person changes their diet and lifestyle. While some changes can produce results quickly, it is important to continue these trends. Going back to old habits can simply reverse these changes and bring the person’s blood pressure back up. Rather than a quick fix, consistent changes are the best way to lower blood pressure over the long term.
Huang, G., et al. (2013). Controlled aerobic exercise training reduces resting blood pressure in sedentary older adults [Abstract].
Juraschek, SP, et al. (2017). Effects of sodium reduction and the DASH diet in relation to baseline blood pressure.
Juraschek, SP, et al. (2017). Time course of change in blood pressure from sodium reduction and the DASH diet.
Roerecke, M., et al. (2017). The effect of a reduction in alcohol consumption on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis.