The causes of high blood pressure can be many and varied, as can the ways to lower your blood pressure
From genes or the environment, in the body’s normal functions including changes to kidney fluid and salt balances, sympathetic nervous system (responsible for fight or flight), and blood vessel structure and function. Some of the factors are not within our ability to change. Such as the structure and function of our blood vessels and genetics.
But other elements are can definitely be influences by our behaviour. Whilst we know that they are within our realms of control it isn’t always easy to do what is best for you.
In 2016 I ruptured my Achilles tendon; 4 weeks later had a massive heart attack and 6 weeks after that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This meant I had to make lots of changes in my life, none of them were easy but I was lucky as I had some tools in my toolbox that helped me achieve what initially felt impossible.
I used my coaching skills to plan and prepare, identify barriers (excuses) and find ways of overcoming them. This helped me with diet, smoking cessation, thinking about alcohol and exercise. It was what gave me the idea of having a home blood pressure monitor; I now have a fitbit too.
Using meditation and hypnosis help me relax and keep control of my emotions. The worry, the fear, the depression, the ‘why me’ thoughts took me by surprise and they took their toll on me. As I had trained as a hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner this knowledge put me in a good position to use the skills I had learnt on myself to get myself in to a positive mindset. I also used NLP to motivate myself to eat healthy and go to exercise.
As I mentioned I have low blood pressure as standard. In my case it is probably the only good genetic gift my family bestowed on me – otherwise I am sure I would have had a heart attack earlier in my life. However, my cardiologist and cardio rehab team all expect me to make the necessary changes to protect my heart health and ensure that I don’t have another heart attack. I believe I am lucky because of what I went through. I want to share with you how to live life, love life and put the sparkle back in your life. So here are my recommendations to help you help yourself lower your blood pressure.
How to lower your blood pressure
Your doctor may have prescribed tablets to help lower your blood pressure. These could include: Diuretics (water pills). Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). Calcium channel blockers. Beta blockers. Renin inhibitors. Always follow your doctor’s instruction regarding medications and never stop taking them.
There are a number of suggested diets available, remember that a diet should always be sustainable and is a lifelong change not a fad. Being over weight increases your blood pressure. Even a loss of just 5lbs can make a read difference. Always speak to your GP in the first instance. A few minutes on Google came up with a few that are recommended to help lower blood pressure are:
Recent research has found that including foods in your diet that are high in at least two of the three power minerals: calcium, magnesium, and potassium can also help towards lowering blood pressure. These can be found in pork loin, kale, kiwi, banana, fat free yogurt, peaches, nectarines, broccoli, red peppers and avocado to name just a few.
Stop adding salt to your food and limit your sodium intake. Try not to add it when cooking. When purchasing food check the label, make yourself aware of how much salt you are eating without knowing, it can be found in the strangest things. A high sodium level is a key contributor to high blood pressure (hypertension).
Notwithstanding all of the other reasons to quit the fags, you really should to help lower your blood pressure. It has been found that it’s the nicotine that raises your blood pressure and heart rate. It narrows your arteries and hardens the walls, and makes your blood more likely to clot.
Having a beer or a glass of wine can raise your blood pressure; it is also a source of empty calories and will add to your weight. We think it relaxes us but it’s actually a stimulant. If you drink down the pub stay away from the salty snacks as they increase your thirst as they contain high levels of salt. Always drink in moderation and the current recommendation can be found on the drink aware website.
Being inactive is linked to high blood pressure. Moderate activity for half an hour for five times a week can keep your heart healthy, and can lower your blood pressure. If you can’t find 30 minutes in one block then increasing your activity by even small amounts throughout the day can help.
Think about how you can be more active in your daily life. The perfect solution might be to find an activity or join a club with friends, something that you enjoy and is fun. It is ideal if it leaves you feeling warm and slightly out of breath. If you haven’t exercised for a long time or have a health condition, always speak to you doctor before starting an exercise program.
Hypnosis, meditation and relaxation
Hypnosis is a valuable tool in a similar way to meditation. It brings the mind, body and nervous system in to harmony functioning in a healthy, optimum way. Hypnosis can be used to facilitate the other changes mentioned above. Smoking, healthy eating and good food choices, reducing salt and sugar, motivation to exercise and reduction of alcohol.
It has been found that some people can experience something called ‘white coat syndrome’ Just the thought of being in a hospital or doctors surgery is enough to send their blood pressure sky rocketing. Hypnosis can help with this too, by removing the fear.
When we meditate, we relax and this means our stress levels fall significantly, and bodies begin to calm and normalise, including our blood pressure.
The soothing qualities of the meditative state bring peace to the mind, body and nervous system. We are then able to break through the hyperactivity in our aroused imbalanced autonomic nervous system and as a result our nervous system is able to reset itself.
“People with hypertension who have been meditating for longer than 3 months need on average 23% less blood pressure medication”. Robert Schneider, Director of the Institute of natural Medicine & Prevention MUM
You can experience this depth of relaxation here
Home blood pressure monitoring machine
Purchase a machine to use at home. For me this was a life saver after my heart attack it reassured me that everything was ok.
Take your blood pressure reading daily. Knowing that your lifestyle changes are decreasing your systolic blood pressure can help you see the difference and increase motivation.
Taking responsibility for your high blood pressure (hypertension)
The best way you can protect yourself against high blood pressure is by being aware of the risks and making changes that matter. Start today; think about what changes you can make from the list above. If you need help with any of them don’t be afraid to ask. It takes a strong person to identify that they need help with and to be able to ask for it.