About 6 minutes of reading time.
First, let’s clear up a common misconception. Normal blood pressure is LESS THAN 120/80! I hear very often from people something like, “Mine is in the 120s and 80s, so there’s nothing to be concerned about.” Ummmm, yeah, but it is elevated. That’s great if it was once higher though, but under 120/80 is normal. Here is a nice chart from the American Heart Association.
DO NOT QUIT TAKING BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATION WITHOUT YOUR DOCTOR’S APPROVAL!
I don’t know what my BP was when I was having my heart attack. The doctors prescribed 5 mg of Lisinopril for blood pressure and 100 mg of metoprolol tartrate, a beta-blocker but can also lower blood pressure, but its main function is to limit the heart rate. I developed a slight cough which is a common side effect of the lisinopril.
The ironic thing is the very few times I went to the doctor before my heart attack, they always commented on how good my BP was and were in disbelief when I told them I smoked. So WHY did they put me on a BP med? I guess it is part of that “standard of care” prescription for all heart attack patients. 🙄
I dropped the Lisinopril in 16 months!
They took me off of the Lisinopril, and good thing because I really didn’t need it. I probably could have gotten off of it earlier if I had an appointment. I tracked my BP regularly using this snazzy blood pressure cuff monitor, and the highest it ever got was 116/78. It did drop down to 80/48 once, but usually, I ate too much of the foods listed below combined with the medicine! Yeah, so take note of what foods will tank your blood pressure on any meds! Kale, garlic, and ginger were the three that usually got me. A few times, it got down around that low when I was TOO LOW on sodium. Initially, I took the “low sodium” directive as “no sodium.” Don’t do that. 😂
As you can see, there are some peaks and valleys, but overall it is pretty consistent. I think April ’19 was higher because I was getting into running and didn’t quite grasp the whole “staying hydrated” thing. (Drink water!) I didn’t record blood pressure nearly as often from July 2020 on and there was only three recordings in November 2020.
Managing blood pressure includes making changes to one’s lifestyle that includes managing stress; quitting or cutting back on bad addictions that include added sugar (Monkfruit extract helped me get off of sugar!), alcohol, and caffeine; eating foods rich in potassium, magnesium, and other nutrients; last but not least, EXERCISE!
Yummy ways to lower blood pressure!
When I was researching what foods I should be eating to get healthy, I stumbled across this article about the 17 best foods for high blood pressure, and here is another good list of foods that lower blood pressure. Some of the items overlap from those two links, but here is a list of most of them. I will list these in ABC order.
- Amaranth Huh? It’s a highly nutritious ancient grain.
- Beans & Lentils Dark Red Kidney, Black, White, Green, etc.
- Beets, Beet Greens, & Beet Juice Don’t like beets? These capsules work well!
- Bell peppers
- Berries Strawberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, etc.
- Chia & Flax Seeds
- Citrus Fruit – Oranges, Lemons, Grapefruit. (But don’t eat grapefruit if you are on a statin!)
- Cruciferous Veggies Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Bok Choy, & Cauliflower
- Dark Chocolate I LOVE this Endangered Species 88% Dark Chocolate .
- Dark Leafy Greens such as Swiss Chard, Kale, Beet Greens, and Spinach.
- Fatty fish such as Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Herring, Sardines, and Trout.
- Greek Yogurt NO ADDED SUGAR!!! I like Stoneyfield Grass-fed Greek & Oikos Triple Zero.
- Herbs & Spices such as Celery Seed, Cilantro, Saffron, Lemongrass, Black Cumin, Ginseng, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Sweet Basil, Garlic, and Ginger.
- Pumpkin Seeds or Pepitas
- Red Onion
- Sweet Potatoes
- Tomatoes cooked is better, so it releases more lycopene.
I know you may not like some of those items, but neither did I when I first started. The funny thing is my taste buds changed and I began to CRAVE some of these things, like kale! Yeah, seriously… no joke. Be sure to check out my nutrient-dense favorite smoothie!
Lowering sodium reduces blood pressure. *
The American Heart Association says we should consume 1,500 – 2,300 mg of sodium.
As of June 18, 2022, I’m going to leave it at that for now, but I’ll be elaborating on the * part sometime after some more experimentation. Let’s just say that after listening to “The Salt Fix” audiobook by Dr. James DiNicolantonio, a Cardiovascular Research Scientist and Doctor of Pharmacy at Saint Luke’s Mid-American Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri; my whole view of salt has changed. If you don’t want to spend 7+ hours listening to this VERY INTERESTING audiobook, then read Jillian Ceasrine’s review of it.
From May 21, 2022 – June 18, 2022 (as of this edit) I’ve dramatically increased my daily salt intake (REAL salt, not the typical refined table salt. ) So far my overall energy levels are better, my athletic performance is better, my sleep is better and there haven’t been any negative effects! In case you’re wondering, my blood pressure remains within my normal around 110/70! Both my doctor and cardiologist are perfectly fine with this! As I mentioned earlier, I’ll write more about this later but I can’t in good conscience be an advocate for lowering the sodium as once again, sugar is the white crystal that should be demonized! At least read Jillian’s book review!
Get moving to lower blood pressure!
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to lower your blood pressure! Even walking just 30 minutes a day can help lower your blood pressure and more will reduce it further!
I couldn’t even do 15 minutes at 3 mph on the treadmill when I first started, even a week or so after I got home from the hospital, so I started with 5 minutes, six times a day. Eventually, I built up to 60 minutes at 5 mph, which was basically a slow run/fast walk. Walk, run, jog, swim, ride a bike, do something… simply move and even get a little sweaty. It’s excellent for you and your blood pressure!
I absolutely LOVE the content of this video! If you DO NOT currently exercise, I highly suggest you watch this!
Keep in mind that the 150 minutes a week is MINIMUM! Sometimes I get that much total exercise in a day. Do more and benefit more, but don’t over-do it on the effort level, and don’t forget to rest! Rest ≠ lazy (well, I “rested” for almost 25 years straight, so, yeah, that was being lazy. )
Drop the bad addictions.
I swapped out bad addictions for good addictions. In fact, you could say that I went from one extreme to the other. Seriously though, sugar, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, etc., only hinders your health in many ways, especially when consumed larger than a single serving day quantities. I would even argue that even a single serving of some of those is still incredibly detrimental.
Whatever your addictions are, drop the quantities down by half a day for a week. Take your BP at the beginning of the week and then the end of the week and I’m willing to bet that you’ll see and FEEL a difference!
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Seriously, stress can cause your blood pressure to rise so much! It is difficult not to get stressed out at many things, but I find that taking the time to exercise, rest, and do a 5-minute deep breathing session a day helps manage it. Chronic stress can really take a toll on our body and mind and keep our blood pressure elevated much more than it should be. Stress can also cause your cholesterol levels to get out of whack!
The American Heart Association actually has a great article about stress and blood pressure and is worth a good read.
We usually think of stress as a mental thing, but stress can be psychological and physical. Over-training can be a form of stress that causes elevated blood pressure that we don’t think about. In 2020, I focused a LOT on how many miles I was running and not the miles’ quality. There were a few times that I’m sure I over-trained. In 2021, I’ve restructured my training to be more of QUALITY vs. quantity and include a TOTAL rest day.
Don’t focus on the end result.
Initially, all I wanted to do was get off my medications, and the blood pressure medicine was one of them. As I got into it, I didn’t focus my thoughts so much, like, “I’m going to do this so I can get off of this medicine.” I realized that if I did that, then human nature would kick in, and I would then be more apt to go back to the old ways. Instead, I made lifestyle changes, and the blood pressure took care of itself in that process. Imagine that… normal blood pressure was a side effect of getting healthy. Oh yeah, and no more coughing from medicine. 😎
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