Before introducing non-drug ways to lower blood-pressure, let's cover the basic facts about blood-pressure. We'll also provide a few online resources should you want to read more.
What is blood-pressure?
Blood-pressure is the force of blood exerted on the inside walls of blood vessels. Blood-pressure is expressed as a ratio (e.g. 120/80). The first, top number is the systolic pressure or the peak pressure when the heart pushes blood out into the arteries. The second, bottom number is the diastolic pressure or the lowest pressure when the heart rests. Your blood-pressure normally varies during the day. It's generally lowest at night and increases in the morning to reach a peak in the afternoon. It increases during activity and decreases at rest.
What are the risks of high blood-pressure?
Normal blood-pressure is less than 120/80 points. Higher levels of blood-pressure (hypertension), a condition referred to as the "silent killer," can develop for years without any signs or symptoms. Left untreated, the damage high blood-pressure causes to blood vessels and vital organs increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, heart failure, dementia and blindness.
What are the benefits of lowering high blood-pressure?
Luckily, high blood-pressure is manageable and lowering it can greatly reduce your risk of developing associated life-threatening conditions. For example, lowering blood-pressure by 14 systolic points for 5 years has been shown to provide:
- 37% reduction in strokes
- 55% reduction in congestive heart failure
- 27% reduction in heart attacks